Today I am thinking, and praying and mourning for all those who have been hit by the storms in the past days.
This is a picture from my parents house from the March 1 1997 tornado that hit Arkadelphia.
This is the link to the article that was on USA Today.com about it all… It was also the early early days of the internet and this is not a digital picture. So weird how much times change in only 11 years.
I had completely forgotten about this picture and this post.
Judea and I (in green) are in Jemimah’s room until my friend Jeanetta posted about it on her blog.
Neither Judea nor I were in Arkadelphia when the tornado hit, we were in Little Rock with my grandmother buying the materials needed to make my veil for my (then) upcoming wedding.
My brother Joshua was working in downtown Arkadelphia at a small grocery store and helped to get everyone under the meat counters when the storm came through. He spent the next 12 hours moving perishable items from that store to another unharmed store. It was hours before we knew whether he was OK or not.
My parents and Jemimah were actually in the house when the tornado hit. They were in an interior closet in my parents room. The only part of the roof that was not hurt or damaged, was the part directly above them. The phone lines were down and my soon-to-be Father In Law was the one who finally made it into to town with a cell phone to check on them first. When he got to their house he couldn’t find them all the exterior walls in both my sisters rooms were gone or crashed in and part of another house was in their bathtub. He could only imagine the worst until he saw them walking down the street, coming back from an elderly neighbor they had gone to check on. I don’t think he has ever been so relieved since.
We spent days picking through the rubble, saving what we could. Usually after a storm the sun comes out, but because it was March, it just kept raining and raining. Rain on top of all that mess. It was so surreal. There was pink insulation in all the trees, and they looked like Tim Burton Easter Trees. Pink and gray and soggy all at the same time. They sent the National Guard in to help with everything, and for weeks I felt like I lived in a war zone. On every corner was a little encampment of soldiers huddled around a fire with guns by their sides. For the first week or so you needed a pass to even get around the damaged part of town…We had to “show our papers” so to speak.
It’s funny how sometimes you never knew you missed something until it reappears. We were all so grateful to have come through the tornado safely, that the loss of stuff never really mattered that much. For the most part we couldn’t even remember the things that were in the attic that might have blown away… We felt just so blessed to be alive and together. It took a few years for my parents to rebuild a big and lovely home on that same spot – committed to rebuilding the neighborhood and the town. After a few more years, mom managed to empty all the boxes we (and many volunteers) had hastily packed up after the storm. I will never forget how I cried the first Christmas we had in the new house where she actually was able to use some of our old ornaments that had been salvaged.
Update: 3/2/2017 – I actually ended up writing about this day in the Holy Cross chapter in my book A Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting and Coming Together
I remember how worried I was for you & your family during the time when I wasn’t able to reach you. I believe the storm made the front page of our local newspaper, and if so, I’m sure I have it packed away somewhere. >>I came to visit months after, in November, and I was awestruck at how much damage was caused & how much still needed to be rebuilt. If memory serves, I think I even cried a little, and if not, was damn close to it. It makes you think how quickly you can lose everything. It’s odd how “things” can lose their meaning in one moment, and how those same things can mean so much once found.>>Really thankful you, Jeanetta, and your families are okay today.
i always think of arkadelphia and your parents when i hear of tornadoes. i happened upon the pic and article of you guys purely by accident while searching for pics. and felt i should use it. i even remebered how you family moved in next door to us in our apartment complex afteward. lol.>glad your back home.
How very scary. I am so glad that you and your family were Ok and that you were able to pick up the pieces ( literally) and move on.
Wow, Dad and I couldn’t believe you found that picture (thanks Jeanetta.)It was such a strange time. Thanks for thinking of us. >Mom
I totally remember when that happened and how awful it was. That picture gives me goosebumps. The tornadoes go around us up in the hills up here so all we can do is sit and watch that on the weather!!
Gosh, I remember that. It was so surreal. Herb had come to visit and we spontaneously went down to San Antonio. We didn’t know about the storm until we arrived in Ark. at night, and a National Guard soldier made me show him my ID. Crazy stuff, and I’ll never forget the story of your parents and sister in the closet. What a miracle they were unharmed! It’s a good reminder to me about what matters most.
How terrifying for your family. I’ve been through three tornadoes and they are very, very scary.
Jerusalem,>>Hi. I linked here from Sarah, and linked to her from Stephanie, and when I saw your name, I realized I know your family. My husband pastored Second BC for awhile and we loved your family! I just saw that your mom has a blog too, so I’m going to hop over there and leave her a comment! How fun to find you.>>Meredith
Wow!!>I’m so glad you all made it through that horrible time.>I live in California where we only have an earthquake now and then.>I have never been in or would want to be in a hurricane or a tornado.>Glad you were all so blessed.>Rosemary
nikki/WhiMSy love says
How horrible! And how miraculous!
Memories, what memories! We were in that little closet and I was praying out loud over your mom and sister, and we could hear the wind, and I felt my ears pop, but it really didn’t seem so loud or bad. Then I opened the closet door and saw we still had a ceiling in the bedroom, and I thought, “OK, we’re alright,” … then I noticed the sky showing through the cracks in the sagging ceiling. The tornado that I could not hear had ripped off the roof and filled our house with ankle-deep debris. Somebody’s old-fashioned metal boxsprings was sitting on our dining room table, twisted like a pretzel. Our lives changed so dramatically in 30 seconds! The Lord certainly watched over us that day, and how blessed we were afterwards by the prayers and help of so many people, both friends and strangers! Memories, what memories.>>daddyo
Jerusalem- I have never been through something like that. We have had them hit down close by, but never here. A few months ago, we headed to the basement. Mother nature so powerful. So glad you and your family pulled through. Family gets you through~~~>Bristol
What a picture. I’m so glad you and your family were unscathed. I remember those storms, I was still living in Mtn. View and watched a tornado drive all the trees down 50 feet from our house. Scariest storm, until ’99 when I was in the storms that mowed down Beebe. I love our state just sheeze… we get some of the most frightening weather. I’m really glad you guys were ok. Let’s build a storm shelter!
An amazing post! Thank you for putting life in perspective.
I’m just now reading this, but I was also showing pictures of the Arkadelphia tornado on Tuesday (b/c everyone in my office was wondering why I was worried about a tornado). Whenever I talk about that experience, I always tell your mom’s story – I remember her sharing it in church shortly after all of the cleanup, and I have never forgotten it. I think the scariest part for me was after we had gotten everyone out of the nursing home, and I went back in for blankets. I was in the inner caverns of this building with a caved in roof, and there was a little radio on in the back. I was gathering blankets when I heard on the radio that the same twister had just touched down at the Baseline/Geyer Springs area of Little Rock, which is where my family is. I got the blankets to another volunteer, ran back to campus and used the first working phone I could find. I finally got in touch with them, and they were ok but going out to help neighbors (and they had been trying to reach me the whole time I had been doing cleanup).