I recently wrote about our harrowing ordeal with an out of control forest fire that burned 4,035 acres and could have decimated our community. We were saved by the heroic efforts of fire fighters and emergency personnel.
That experience brought to mind two other nights where natural disasters brought death and destruction to our lives.
The first was on February 5, 2008 in Jackson, Tennessee. I arrived in Henderson, Tennessee for the Freed-Hardeman lectureship and enjoyed the day immensely. That evening I drove to my hotel in Jackson to check into my room. The weather grew worse as I got closer. I turned off my audiobook and discovered that there was a tornado warning.
At the hotel, I was unable to check in because the power was out. I was ushered into the laundry room and told to get under a blanket since a category 4 tornado was two miles away. One of my friends, Tony Fitzgerald and his family were there and we all spent the night praying that we would not be killed.
The tornado hit Union University and damaged 31 buildings, doing $40 million in damage. I finally went to my room in the early morning and slept some before waking up and checking in. The staff at the hotel were extraordinary.
The second was April 3, 1974 when Alabama and several other states were brutally attacked by tornadoes. Huntsville, Alabama was hit hard and other cities were destroyed completely. We stayed up all night watching the news. As a child, I was terrified.
One website noting the memories of that night wrote:
“The forecast for Wed. April 3, 1974 was for showers on the East coast & for thunderstorms across the Midwest. In the heavens, a storm of an overwhelming magnitude was forming. Children went to school, people went to work & lives went on as normal until the second worst storm of the century struck.”