tornados. they suck. really.
i am being taught a lesson lately by HIM that i need to be more empathetic and give more grace to people in situations i have no personal experience with. the whole if you haven't walked in those shoes idea. i'm trying.

i have walked in tornado aftermath shoes.
what happened in OK is awful. i have lived through something similar and it's not fun.  i am praying for the ones affected by this natural disaster and hope the death toll numbers will continue to drop!

in 1997 i was in an F4 tornado in arkadelphia arkansas. my mother and father and i were at home while a tornado ripped through our small town and our home while we were in it. recently i read my sisters take on this experience on an old blog post of hers

 it's really strange what tornados do. they have a mind of their own. i remember seeing eagle eye photos of the aftermath and seeing a strange path of the damage. tornados hop up and down. you know they are coming, but they don't have a direct path like hurricanes or blizzards. so there's really no way to feel completely safe till the funnel is no more.

it's also strange what i remember about that day.
it was on the 1st of march and i remember the date with out having to look at a calender because the day before was my best friends birthday and we had spent the whole day together. 
i remember that it had rained for days before the tornado and the ground was soggy. 
i remember afterwards the previously tree lined streets were filled with debris and fallen trees. trees that had been there for 100's of years-gone! picked up and thrown around like weeds because of the soft ground.
i remember that the sound of the tornado. it sounded like a rushing train right by your head. or like being under an overpass and you hear the high pitch sound of cars and weight. 
i remember the house literally shaking. i was crying the whole time it took place and my mother saying why are you crying? i thought can you not feel that?! later on stepping outside our waste high debris filled house we would see that i was right-our house had moved. 
i remember moments before the storm hitting my dad stepping outside to watch the sky then rushing back in to say the storm was on it's way. 
i remember the very strange color of the sky and the eerie stillness of the air. with all the rain that had happened the week before it was a warning sign when it suddenly stopped. 
i remember all three of us in my parents closet with only their bedroom door swung back against the entrance of the closet to keep us in there. 
i remember my dad praying over us. praying for my siblings that weren't in the house with us. praying for everyone.
i remember that the closet was the most interior part of the house. 
i remember afterwords being thankful that i jumped in my parents closet at the last minute and not the bathroom tub or my closet that were both gone after it was over.
i remember afterwards stepping outside and seeing that our entire roof and attic was gone except for one section. the section that was directly over the closet we were in. 
i remember later discovering those boxes contained photos and baby memorabilia that couldn't be replaced.
i remember stupid petty things. like the shoes i had just purchased with my own money. shoes i had saved up a year to buy. aisic gel diablos. 
i remember searching for them afterwards and tying them together and carrying them around my shoulders while i wore boots to go look for and help people. people loot in storms. it's sad but true.
i remember checking on neighbors and thanking God they were ok. 
i remember seeing pieces of homes strewn everywhere. 
i remember seeing an entire trailer park flattened.
i remember my high school boyfriend running 2 miles to come find me and make sure i was ok. 
i remember how quickly the red cross was there. faster than the guard. 
i remember in the days following how we had to have a zone sticker and pass to get to our home. my sister says it was like a war zone and it kind of felt that way. destruction and protection everywhere.
i remember people helping each other. reaching out and giving of their time, money, clothing, places to sleep, food. 
i remember people coming to help from all over. what a testimony.
i remember how relieved i felt finding out my sisters and grandparents in little rock, an hour or so away, were ok. and finally hearing from my brother many hours later that he was fine but had been working at the grocery store when the tornado hit. he and others hid under the meat displays and then spent the next hours moving everything to a different store. 
i remember thinking about all the people lost to such a random event. how sad.
i remember thinking that there would be gaps in history records and documents because of all that was lost.
i remember someone returning my drivers license to me a while after the storm. saying they had found in it in their yard on the other side of town. 
i remember all those that took us in and gave us a place to live while we picked up the pieces.

i remember a lot about that day and the months to follow.

it's hard to believe that happened looking at my parents home now. they rebuilt their own home on the same lots our rental was on. part of the rebuilding effort of the town. it's hard to believe they didn't add a storm seller like i suggested but that's their choice. it's hard to believe that "mother nature" can do such powerful things. it makes me in awe of God even more. it makes me thankful for safety, health, family, and knowing that no matter what He holds the future.  no matter what is lost, He is our gain.

i will be praying for the victims families in oklahoma and the healing of those communities. i wish i could go help! living in the south has it's disadvantages but one huge positive is people helping one another and pulling together. us southerners can be pretty tough. i have know doubt after a time of healing a rebuilding, that area will be as strong as ever. 

praying you are safe where you are! 


  1. You know I remember that storm. My dad did a mail route for Napa from Bearden and through different towns. On that particular day, he stopped for a soda, something he did not normally do. The tornado went through at the same time he would have had he not stopped. Crazy.

  2. Your description is so accurate after all this time. Makes me remember all of it again.
    Great job putting into words our experience.
    Love Mom


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