Over one year ago, I was a normal, carefree, happy twelve year old girl. I had a beautiful home with a loving, close-knit family, wonderful friends, a great church family, and no real worries on my mind.
That all changed one seemingly beautiful spring day. On May 22, 2011, the city where I live (Joplin, Missouri) got slammed by an EF-5 tornado, the baddest of the bad. As a result of the storm, over 150 people had been killed and nearly 1,000 injured. The tornado did most of its damage in the southern part of the city, the part where I live. We were at home when the tornado struck.
I remember that day like it was only yesterday. It was a bright, sunny day with nothing more than a few puffy, innocent looking clouds. No harbingers whatsoever of what was to come, although it was rather oppressive, in terms of humidity, and rather breezy, but most of us (including myself) didn't really pay much attention to the weather forecasts. I was too busy worrying about school and other matters.
Well, we got through school that day with no incident, but on the way home, I had heard that our area was under a tornado watch: the threat of severe weather was quite possible for our area; the air was prime for rapid storm development and tornadoes were quite possible. I just put that out of my mind and figured I would probably go to the basement if the weather got too bad: the basement would protect us, I reasoned.
Well, around five or six that evening, ugly looking clouds started coming in from the west and southwest. No longer puffy little white clouds, these clouds were black, grey, and even green and purple: they looked like they meant business. I could see lightning flashing in the distance and hear thunder muttering continuously. By now there were tornado warnings to the south and west of us, and the weather people were telling us to get to shelter as a monster tornado was approaching Joplin from the west.
Mom, Daddy, my little brother Isaac (four), my little sister Paige (six) and myself all scurried down to the basement and held each other as we prayed to God to keep us safe from the storm as it came in. We soon heard the sound of rushing wind, the sound of walls and glass breaking, and God knows what else. We clung to each other and prayed desperate prayers to God, asking Him to keep our little family safe from the demon-spawned tornadic winds.
As soon as it had started, the winds subsided shorly thereafter (it seemed like hours); soon there was nothing but deathly silence. I looked around, grateful to see that our family was still intact, but I dreaded to see what we would find when we emerged from our basement hidey-hole.
We crawled out of the basement, only, to our horror, to discover that our house had been pulverized. Debris and the remains of our home lay scattered as far as one could see; in fact, all of the homes on our street looked like they had been flattened by a huge monster bulldozer. The sight of the massive amount of damage caused my mother to fall into a faint and my father to start weeping. All I could do was stand there and hold onto my brother and sister, a look of shock and disbelief on my face. I couldn't believe what had just happened to me. It was so surreal.
We all had nothing more than a few minor bumps, bruises, and scratches, but the fact of the matter was this: we had all just survived a massive tornado. It was only by the will of God that we did.
We may have lost our home and most of our personal belongings, but we had each other. None of my family members were killed.
I chose to hold onto hope. If there was anything about me, I had a very strong faith in God, and I believed that God would get us through this uncertain time. A home and our belongings (as well as our property) could be replaced; a human life could not. That we survived something as monumental as a huge tornado was nothing short of a miracle.
~To be continued.~