LOOKING UP: On being in storm’s way
Monday, 12 November 2012 by Joe Baisden
As I write this, Superstorm Sandy is wreaking havoc to a multi-state area of the Northeast. Power outages alone in seven states have reached the 7 million mark and rising. Just thinking of the flooding and wind damage staggers our imagination. Sandy will be talked about for years to come.
If we got together and told stories of ourselves and others who have been in storm's way, what would you contribute to the conversation?
My earliest recollection of a horror story about a storm came from my dad. He told how it took both him and a friend using all their strength together to keep a storm house door from being blown away as the tornado that had originated in Hill County near Bynum and destroyed the little town of Frost came across the southern part of Ellis County where Dad was living. The weather service lists the "Frost Tornado" (May of 1930) as the sixth worst in Texas history. Forty-one people died and 200 were injured.
The tornado that the weather service lists as the worst in Texas occurred in Waco on May 11, 1953. I was in Killeen High School at the time, and remember how the sky was scary dark during that week. My family got a glimpse of the incredible damage as we drove through Waco a few days later. The death toll in Waco was 114; 597 were injured; 2000 vehicles were destroyed.
Janelle and I had not lived in Bloomington, Texas (Victoria County on the Gulf Coast) but about three months when the news came that there was a storm in the Gulf probably headed our way. Communication about such was not anything like it is today. Sure enough, Hurricane Carla (1961) had drawn a bead on our area. Some folks began to board up their houses and evacuate. We did not know what to do. Sunday was coming, and I did not want to appear as a coward and run away from my congregation.
After consulting with a few of our members, we were urged to leave also. I found a few planks and nailed one each diagonally across our windows. (This effort was the source of much laughter later.) We drove to my parents' home in Killeen for the duration. Carla was one of those storms people still talk about. It was extremely strong, and the howling wind and rain kept Janelle awake most of the night here in Bell County.
Returning to Bloomington, we found some houses (including ours) with little damage and some completely gone. The eye of the storm had gone over Bloomington High School. You could get an unobstructed view of the sky while standing in the school library.
There was devastation everywhere, but the most amazing thing happened. Happy that no lives were lost, the people of the little town came together to deal with the damage. Soon things began to look better than they had before the storm.
Some of the worst storms people endure have nothing to do with the weather. Storm clouds can come in the form of disease, debilitation, dissension, or a death in the family. Economic downturn can foster a storm.
When these kinds of storm come, it is well to remember that Jesus can still the storm. The hymn suggests:
When storms around are sweeping,
When lone my watch I'm keeping
'Mid fires of evil falling,
'Mid tempters' voices calling,
Remember me, O mighty One!
Remember me, O mighty One!
"Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!" – Mark 4:41