Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Praise in the Storm

Yesterday we had powerful thunderstorms sweep through our area (it was a huge band spanning several counties) that did quite a bit of damage. High winds came in fast and furious along with rain and hail in some places, but it was the wind that caused the damage.

Trailers overturned, trees uprooted and snapped in half, and power lines were knocked down all over the place. A section of our main highway was closed for most of the day because of power lines across all lanes. Several people reported seeing funnel clouds, but the weather service has not confirmed any tornadoes.

I've only heard of one death due to the storm where a logger in an adjacent county was pinned between his truck and a tree that a gust of wind knocked over. Emergency crews could not get to him quickly because of the power lines and trees down in the roads. He died at the hospital later on. Our prayers are with his family, co-workers, and friends.

Below are some pictures I took this morning, mostly for the benefit of my congregation.

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All of the white pieces lying on the ground used to be our church sign.

Here is one section of the sign and one of four bulbs from the corner lights.

You can see two more bulbs here... one in the foreground, facing us, and one under the end of the white beam that is lying on the ground pulled away from the bottom of the sign. See it? It's under the end that's in the cross shadow. We are assuming the fourth bulb is under the sign or blown farther away than we looked for it.

This leg snapped right at the ground line.

This leg snapped a little higher than ground line. Along this side of the sign is the metal conduit with the electric lines in it that run underground. Had we still had the lines above ground, they could have been ripped out of the wall. Actually, as I look at this picture, I'm thinking that the conduit is probably what kept the sign from being blown any farther than down! That's all it's connected to.

Work crews lining the road for tree removal and line repair.
This is the scene just north of the church.

National Grid is on the job.

Remnants of a felled tree stacked in the yard of a friend's house.

I believe this could be the tree those logs came from. It's across the street from my friend's house. You can see branches still on the ground behind the standing tree and a broken branch down behind the boat.

There is a little glare from the windshield in this one (I'm a writer, not a photographer), but you can still see the tipped poles and downed electric lines, some sections with branches still on them. This is on the same street just past and across from my friend's house.

You can find other, more amazing pictures here.

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This is just a small glimpse of what a lot of the town my church is in looks like, which is why they have declared a state of emergency there. They have no power, which means no traffic lights, and have many trees and power lines to repair. Rumor has it that it will be a couple of days before power is completely restored.

And yet, despite the destruction, I am hearing many stories of God's blessings and provision.

One woman in an area lost her private utility pole. Until she could replace it, they could not hook up power and she didn't know what to do. God's provision was right in her own yard! She had a junk vehicle that she was able to sell and get the money for the new pole. It is being installed today and she could have power as soon as tonight.

Praise the Lord!

A couple from our church had a large tree fall in their yard - completely missing their storage shed. They also had glass windows blown out in their garage, yet not a single pane was chipped! I can picture angels lined up inside the garage waiting to catch them and then setting them down gently on the floor for them to re-install when the husband came home from work!

Praise the Lord!

I heard a story of a Curves member in her sixties who ran home from her neighbor’s house next door to clean things off her porch so they wouldn’t blow away, only to be almost blown away herself! She is legally blind, but could hear a roaring wind coming up the street, so she wrapped her arms tightly around a nearby post. As the strong wind rushed past her house, she turned her head to see the outline of a funnel barreling down the street. Her feet were lifted off the ground, but her grip proved strong and she was fine. I already know how God has provided for her financially to exercise at Curves for strength training and I believe He also put her in place at that porch post.

Praise the Lord!

I'm looking forward to hearing more praises despite damages, too. No matter how great our losses, God still provides!

All of this reminds me of a song by Casting Crowns – Praise You In This Storm. The chorus goes like this:

I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

Take a listen here when you can. God bless!