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Washington, Illinois Tornado 2013 Glad To Be Alive
Road By Where We Were
Our family the Sunday before Tornado
The Week Before Tornado
The week before natures fury hit our little town in Washington, Illinois we were standing on the bridge beside our church having a family snap-shot made. Little did we know that one week later almost everything behind us would be gone.
We moved from Oklahoma 2 years prior to pastor a small work in this family friendly town. We have 5 children and we were used to tornadoes in Oklahoma, though we had not directly been impacted by them. We thought moving here, our chances to be in one were slim to none. We were wrong (chuckle)!
I had a strong feeling come over me; to the point my husband had me to share it with the church that Sunday eve. I told them to be prayerful, I felt in my heart that trouble was coming. That whole week before the tornado, I prayed every day over my children; that God would protect them and for others as well. The feeling was so strong I could not hardly sleep some nights. There was others (from far away) that told us they prayed for us, because they had a bad feeling and didn't know why.
The Saturday night before the dreadful day, my husband (the pastor) couldn't sleep. He said he felt very strong on his heart to cancel Sunday School and speak on Psalms 61:2-3
Verse 2: From the end of the earth will I cry unto Thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Verse 3: For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.
I knew that was unusual for him to change plans so randomly. I still felt my uneasy feeling too.
Roof off the back of the church. We saw daylight when we came out of hiding.
Sunday, November 17 2013 F4 TORNADO HITS WASHINGTON, ILLINOIS:This Mama's story
It seemed a typical Sunday morning, rushing the family around, getting ready for church. We were too busy to check the weather as we hustled to church. We noticed it was eerie and strangely warm outside for that time of year. We commented to one another how odd it was outside as we greeted everyone.
We had a visiting evangelist and his wife staying in the evangelist quarters in the back. They had already been with us in revival service the previous Friday and Saturday nights.
Church started and I took the children back for Sunday School. We were celebrating Thanksgiving and having each child share what they were thankful for. I was planning on them doing a program before the congregation.
I heard a noise, so I looked outside before taking the children out. I seen it had been lightening and thundering, but I told my oldest daughter, " It sounds like there is an air-plane flying super low over us." My daughter said, " Mom, what if it's a tornado?" I ran out and looked at the sky. To my dismay the tornado was right above us, I could see pitch, black, violent swirls with debris flying and it was extremely loud.
It was about 11:15, the evangelist had just received the alert on his phone, it was on vibrate so he ran outside and saw it coming straight toward the church. He warned everyone to take cover. My husband ( the pastor) was up saying what he had felt so strong the night before to say. His last line before he and everyone left was......."Thou has been a shelter for me."
What if you saw a tornado?
I Saw It Coming Toward Us
I ran back in screaming........... We all had seconds to take cover. There was 10 of us in one, tiny bathroom, the rest in closets etc. I remember holding me babies, crying and praying with everything within me. Most of the area houses, and buildings have basements, but we did not. My babies cried and huddled close to me, I could feel the pressure strong from the atmospheric conditions----most terrifying feeling; then I could hear it hit. I did not know what was going to happen to us, but I did feel angels were not too far away.
It was just moments, but seemed like forever, then my husband opened the bathroom door with this relieved, yet snow-white, fearful look on his face. We saw daylight---- we saw the sky.
The tornado had lifted the roof off the back of the church. The evangelist quarters, (where the evangelist had been staying) ----the roof was gone. The area the kids normally would have been playing as class ended (I chose a different room that day) .....ROOF GONE!
We all survived! We cheered, hugged, cried and thanked God-----We made it!
The sanctuary windows were sucked out, blowing glass and debris all over.
One elder man tried to explore while the tornado hit and was almost sucked out the door, but another man pulled him in, in the nick of time. He only had a cut. Most all the vehicles in the parking lot was totaled, but we didn't care----we were alive.
When we walked out and saw the community, it looked like a war zone. Across from us was a housing edition of 2 and 3 story homes; the majority was flattened.
We were in the direct path of this fierce F4 tornado, had it not bounced up some......... we would have been completely swept off the foundation.
It was complete chaos as more warnings were given, the wounded and fearful begin running to and fro. We had to hide our children,and the elderly in a nearby basement, that sustained damage, but still structurally sound.
So many lost their homes and businesses. Six people perished in the area, but only two in Washington. It was said that: had it not been during church hours, the death toll would have been higher. Most of the people at home had a sufficient warning and a basement or shelter. There was a large church where the entire housing edition behind it was gone; had it hit that church--- hundreds would have perished.
I encourage you to search and read the amazing stories far more exciting and inspiring than my own of lives saved by a miracle and of kind humans hearts that came from all over the country to help this little town in her time of need. God bless all those good Samaritans!
So blessed to be alive! The town is building again with the motto: WASHINGTON STRONG