Letter: Post-tornado: neighbors, complete strangers, put caring into action
On April 16, 2011, the Gwyn family and friends were celebrating Ezra Allen Gwyn’s 1st birthday. We had gathered in the garage because of damp, wet weather. As Ezra had enjoyed his first birthday cake and was about to open his gifts, the tornado made its uninvited presence known.
We all (15 of us) hit the floor and waited as the howling winds and trees did their damage. As we emerged to see just what has happened, we praised God that we were all safe, without an injury or scratch. Then the miracles began.
I’ll try to remember all the love we felt: All the hugs, words of encouragement, food, clothes, water, power saws busily at work, all through the day Sunday. My children, other family members, friends and others that we didn’t know—those who had hearts as big as an ocean—began to show up. The phone rang and rang … What do you need? What can we do? People came crawling over trees, houses that had been flattened and looked like a pile ready for a bonfire, cars smashed and ready for the junkyard.
Many came, including those I didn’t know. I could see the caring and love in their eyes as they worked to free us. As the week passed, it began to grow. As people all over this county and beyond read the newspapers, watched the Channel 10 news reports, and heard the stories, they put their caring into action.
My great-grandchildren’s school, T.C. Walker, brought gift cards—gifts for the children, whose Easter weekend may not happen. But they made sure they had the Easter gifts all children look forward to. Newington Baptist Church members came to clean up, cut down, pick up. John Gordon and his staff from Chick-fil-A sent supper, twice. Melanie, a waitress, sent a gift. Project Rebound brought boxes of food and cleaning products. Providence Baptist Church brought hot meals into the neighborhood. Gloucester Church of God called … We want to help! We have diapers, clothes, shoes, food …We want to help!
Family and friends from out of state, from Arizona, Florida and Delaware called: What can we do? We sent our prayers, but we want to do something more. The insurance company came to help expedite the process. Cars and homes needed to be provided, quickly.
I know I haven’t remembered everyone. I’ve missed someone who was so quick to give help. Please forgive me. I don’t mean to forget anyone. My life and mind are still in a storm.
To all those who opened their hearts, arms and wallets, we pray God’s special blessings on each of you. We thank you with all our hearts.
I surely don’t wish to experience anything like this, but if you do face such a time in your life, we will be there. We all ask, what can I do? How can I help? First, bow your head. Ask God what He would have you do. Even if you don’t know God, He still hears you and answers your prayers.