Seeing God’s Hand in the Tornado’s Wake

January 19, 2024 • United States

Homeowners praise God for His protection and for the many volunteers serving their storm-hit North Carolina town in Jesus’ Name.

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Gene Housley’s clock read 12:35 p.m. when the power went out. Then the inside of his house was darkened by the shadow of the passing storm that struck Claremont, North Carolina, on Jan. 9.

A tornado tore through Claremont, North Carolina, in early January.

A tornado tore through Claremont, North Carolina, in early January.

“All of a sudden it got black,” Gene said. “Black as midnight. I was in my chair, where I always sit to watch TV and read my Bible. I heard a rumble, like people say. Like a train.”

But unlike the train that rolls through town near his house, the rumbling was followed by violent shaking of doors and windows on his mobile home. The structure was breathing, the doors and windows began pulsating, and it wasn’t long before he realized he was in the tornado’s path.

The January twister ripped apart homes and toppled trees as it cut a nine-mile destructive path across the county. At least four people were injured. One was killed. Gene would realize later it was a former neighbor of his, dying to protect his girlfriend as their home collapsed.

Homeowner Gene Housley expressed gratitude for the help of volunteers at his home.

Homeowner Gene Housley expressed gratitude for the help of volunteers at his home.

The EF1 tornado, with 110 mile-per-hour winds, passed before Gene’s front window in the middle of the afternoon.

“I got up and I looked out the front door on the opposite side. I could see it. The tornado was going in a straight line, and outside it looked like a blizzard except it wasn’t white,” he said. “It was black with all the debris in the wind.”

Samaritan’s Purse responded to the devastated area within hours of the storm, deploying assessment teams and a tractor trailer of supplies and equipment. Volunteers started working the following day, cleaning up yards, removing fallen trees, and tarping damaged roofs.

Volunteers cut up large trees knocked over in the storm.

Volunteers cut up large trees knocked over in the storm.

Gene is just one of many homeowners we are helping in Jesus’ Name, assisting him with the many trees that fell around his home.

“The Lord put His finger on my home. We planted those trees all down through the years. One limb is all that hit the home,” he said, surveying where the large timbers had fallen, all away from the home. “And the Lord sent those volunteers. They came in like an army.”

With heavy machines and chainsaw teams working throughout communities, volunteers made quick work of trees that Gene said would have been impossible to remove in weeks.

We also tarped damaged roofs.

We also tarped damaged roofs.

“All that happened Wednesday, I got a knock on my door Thursday. And if you take a look around, you can see what all the hard work they’ve done,” Gene said. “The Lord sent them down here. They worked and worked and worked. They wouldn’t even let me help.”

In about three days, Gene’s yard was cleaned up, and our volunteers and Rapid Response Team chaplains were able to present him with a special Billy Graham Study Bible signed by all the volunteers.

“They showed me kindness and love,” Gene said. “I can’t say it in words what it means to have someone help me like this.”

Please continue to pray for homeowners recovering after the storm.

Please continue to pray for homeowners recovering after the storm.

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U.S. Disaster Relief Samaritan's Purse mobilizes and equips thousands of volunteers to provide emergency aid to U.S. victims of wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. In the aftermath of major storms, we often stay behind to rebuild houses for people with nowhere else to turn for help.

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