Vilonia Tornado Cleanup in Words

Now you didn’t think I could just leave it as a photo post did ya?  There are to many words in this head.


If I had to sum it all up in one word, I think it would be humbling. I know that word gets thrown around a lot, especially in these situations. It’s so vastly different to be there in the flesh, seeing the sights, smelling the smells, feeling and touching and talking instead of witnessing the heartbreak and destruction on a screen.  Humbling is the best I can come up with.




It’s humbling to stand there with the people who lived in that now pile of ruble, who survived the twisting winds of an EF4. To hear their stories – hiding in a back closet and waking up in the garage, kneeling in the only corner still standing, leaving moments before to go down the street to someone else’s shelter. God is good.

It’s humbling to sift through the ruins looking for something – anything – salvageable.   Something of meaning from their “pre-tornado” life. To know that you, with all these children, are not really doing much actual helping. But hoping it helps a little when combined with all the others, hoping it fosters a service spirit for when they are biggeimager.









It is a complete change in thinking. To spend years constantly looking at your surroundings and thinking “reduce, less, simplify” to standing in that overwhelming heap hoping to find as much as possible, the more the better. Knowing if this family were moving they likely would have filled a uhaul box truck. Now they are barely filling a flatbed trailer. Not even knowing if those items belong to that family. To be the one to make the decision if an item is salvageable, important.


To see the God reminders that seem, well, so perfectly ironic you know it has to be straight from Him.  The puzzle of the angel looking over 2 children, perfectly intact.  The scensy package labeled “No Place Like Home”.


To look around and know that at any time this could be you.


In that same look around you see it.

imageThe hundreds of people who have called in to work, given up their days – their time, money, food, resources – to pull together to help those who are hurting. From the men working the tractors, to the ones cooking for thousands. People with pallets of water and ice chests on trailers, in the back of pick ups and mini vans. People carrying styrofoam chests constantly circulating to ensure none were hungry.   Ladies walking around handing out dust masks and gloves, care packages with personal hygiene items. A group of young adults searching for photos and then searching for the owners.

These were not some agency. These were people.  People who knew their piece, combined with others, would have a tremendous effect.  And it was amazing.

My heart is still breaking for those families. For those families that lost more than just things. Street signs are blown away, landmarks are gone. To navigate we had to use Google Maps. Getting a Birdseye view to what the area used to look like. When we were given our streets to help on, we were sent to Cody Lane first. They had already accomplished most of the cleanup and were starting to burn the piles. We sat just looking, waiting for a response from the others on the next meet up point. Then yesterday I read this: The Cheerleader. Chills and tears. We were just looking at that field the day before.

And in true God like fashion, I was given peace. We are so blessed to live here. For so many reasons but perhaps the most wonderful in times like these – we know whose arms we can fall into. 14 souls left this earth, many dozens of people are grieving, hundreds are recovering from injuries. I pray, like the Smith and Tittle families, that each and every one of them cling to that faith and lean on Him in the hard days to come. I pray He wraps His arms around each one and gives them a peace and comfort that only He can provide.

God is good. All the time.

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