After entire neighborhoods were flattened and nine people killed in Louisville, Samaritan's Purse volunteers bring encouragement to tornado survivors
When 46-year-old Debbie Love-Lee emerged from her bedridden father’s home after an E4 tornado struck, she said her neighborhood looked like something on TV.
Entire houses were gone. People wandered the street aimlessly, crying, bleeding, screaming for their loved ones and screaming for help. A little girl who she didn’t know clung to Debbie’s leg sobbing, “It’s going to come back. It’s going to come back!”Help Storm Victims in the U.S.A gas leak on the street was spotted, and everyone was told to evacuate. Debbie and other family members had to carry her 83-year-old father miles in the rain before they could reach safety.
Her own sister’s house down the street had collapsed with the family inside. Her cousin around the corner was one of the 10 people who lost their lives in Louisville as a result of the devastating storm that hit the area at the end of April.
“I didn’t have a clue of what to do,” Debbie said. “Clothes where everywhere. (Tree) limbs were everywhere. “
The city set up a site for distributing emergency supplies to storm victims. When Debbie went there, the first thing she saw was a Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Relief Unit and a Billy Graham Evangelistic Association truck.
“I got really excited,” Debbie said. “Everyone was like, ‘You’re in a disaster. Why are you so excited and happy?’ But all I could say was, ‘It’s them! They’re like really here!’”
Debbie is a Christian who is familiar with Billy Graham, and aware of the work Samaritan’s Purse does in disasters around the world. But she never thought that something like this would happen to her or that people from all over the country would come and volunteer to help her and her family during the darkest period of their lives.
When volunteers arrived to help her with debris cleanup and to comfort her while sharing hope in the name of Jesus Christ, Debbie couldn’t contain her joy. Despite all the destruction and even her family’s great loss of her cousin, Debbie said her faith in the Lord was strengthened in the aftermath of this storm.
“I say, ‘Lord, you brought us through this. You’ll get us out,” she said. [Samaritan’s Purse] blessed this neighborhood like it’s never had before.”
Brian and Jessica Terry also lost their home in the tornado, which flattened their entire community. The couple had just moved from Alabama three months prior and had only paid three payments on their house before it was damaged beyond repair.
The couple stood in shock as they watched a neighbor pull Brian’s mangled camper from the back of a home that was a few lots away. He had just listed it on Craigslist the week before the storm.
They were discouraged and didn’t know what to do, but when Samaritan’s Purse offered to help, they were relieved to have someone to rely on.
“It’s been a blessing,” Brian said. “We don’t have any family in the area and the only friends we have are at work. We would have never been able to do all this.”
The Terrys aren’t sure if they will rebuild. Most of their neighbors already declared they won’t because they’re too old to start over. But Jessica said they will if they can. Watching the Samaritan’s Purse volunteers clean the property gave her a new hope.
“This would have taken months if not a year. It’s just so much we wouldn’t have been able to do,” she said. “This yard, in two hours, was a totally different yard. They’ve been a Godsend over here.”
Samaritan’s Purse is continuing to help victims of tornadoes not only in Mississippi, but also Arkansas, Kansas, and Alabama. Please continue to pray for people trying to recover from the storms, and for our volunteers and staff as they bring the comfort and hope of Jesus Christ.