Responding to Texas Tornadoes

May 21, 2013 • United States

Samaritan's Purse is helping after as many as 10 twisters ripped through North Texas

Helpless. That’s how Jerry Shuttlesworth felt when the tornado took out his house and nearly took his life.

Jerry was inside his mobile home in Granbury, Texas, when the twister decimated his neighborhood on May 15. The next few moments were the most terrifying of his life.

Give“I thought it was a hail storm,” Jerry said. “Then the floor lifted up. I grabbed [my dog] and put the leash on him. I put my arms around him and I was praying, ‘God, [please] take care of us.’”

The tornado picked up his mobile home and rolled it. Jerry was thrown out and separated from his dog as the house ripped apart. Dazed, he lay on his back looking up at the black funnel cloud as it swirled around him for what seemed like minutes.

“I looked up and I kept praying,” he said. “It was over me turning and I was watching. Finally it fled. The clouds cleared, all the stirring was gone and I stood up.”

Texas-tornado-response-Samaritan's-Purse-JerryJerry was beaten up and bruised. Blood was running down his face from a big gash on his forehead. He had black eyes from being pummeled by debris, three broken bones in his foot, and a cracked or fractured heel.

But as he looked at the remains of his home and other wreckage piled in a big circle around him, he realized God had protected him.

“I looked at it and I said, ‘I see what You did for me,’” he said.

He was thankful to be reunited with his dog two days after the storm. Then the reality of the situation hit him. The debris pile was huge. He didn’t know where to start.

“I used to drive a trash truck and clean up yards,” he said. “I’m sorry, but this is too much… It’s overkill. I’ve got to have help.”

Texas-tornado-response-prayerSamaritan’s Purse responded to the storms that raked North Texas by sending staff and volunteers to Hood County. A Disaster Relief Unit is based at Stonewater Church in Granbury.

On Monday, we were allowed into the most affected areas. Volunteers were out in force, helping storm victims.

One of the first people we helped was Jerry. Our team cut up downed trees with chainsaws, removed debris, and helped him salvage personal belongings.

“It means a lot to me for Samaritan’s Purse to be out here and to be able to help us,” Jerry said. “There’s no way we could have done it on our own. For all of you all to come out here and give your time and your energy to help us find what we lost, I appreciate it so much from the bottom of my heart. Thank you. “

The deadly storms killed at least six people in Hood County and the surrounding area. As many as 100 people were injured. More than 100 homes were damaged or destroyed in Granbury.

Meteorologists speculate that one of the tornadoes was an EF-4 with winds ranging from 166 to 200 miles per hour. The storm also produced grapefruit-sized hail.

Texas Tornado ReliefHomeowners were allowed to enter the disaster area on Saturday. It looks like a giant debris field, with very few houses left standing. Those that remain have structural damage. Roofs were lifted off and slammed back down.

“People are devastated, they’re homeless, lonely,” said Captain Jerry East of the Hood County Sheriff’s office. “The only thing that they have is what they are wearing.”

On Monday, 116 Samaritan’s Purse volunteers began to help with cleanup and debris removal, and on Tuesday, 55 more volunteers joined the effort. Most of them were from Stonewater Church. They worked alongside people from Colorado, New Mexico, Illinois, and North Carolina. A team of Billy Graham Rapid Response chaplains is also ministering to storm victims.

Ross-SP Texas Tornado Monday Volunteers-62“All these people that are here to help them, it’s encouraging them and lifting them up,” Captain East said. “Just remember, when you are saying your prayers, just remember these people who lost their homes, some of these people lost their loved ones, family members. Keep us in your prayers.”

We recently provided disaster relief in Texas last month after a fertilizer plant exploded in West, a little over 80 miles from Granbury.

Please pray for the tornado victims as they face the rebuilding process. Pray that they will see they have a heavenly Father who cares as our volunteers work. And please pray for people impacted by storms in Oklahoma as Samaritan’s Purse also responds there.

U.S. Disaster Relief Samaritan's Purse mobilizes and equips thousands of disaster relief 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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