Dayton Prayer Update, After the Tornadoes

By Tom Gilson Published on May 30, 2019

This prayer update video is intended for you to share at your church. Thank you.

“I was hiding in the shower, and suddenly I was outdoors. The roof and one of the walls were gone.”

“We came out of the bathroom where we’d been sheltering, and our living room wasn’t there.”

“You’re standing in our three-car garage.” “Really? Where’d it go?” “We have no idea.”

“My neighbor’s roof is in my other neighbor’s yard across the street.”

Ridge Church Dining, Talking, Relaxing in the shelter after the Dayton area tornadoes

Helping survivors at The Ridge Church

I spent the day in Brookville, Ohio, yesterday listening to survivors’ stories following the massive tornado strike there Monday night. I’ve been through two natural disasters myself, and I’d committed to helping others the next chance I had, so I was there at the church’s invitation, mostly in a listening/pastoral role. For that reason I don’t have many photos of people; it wouldn’t have been right to ask their permission. Many wanted to talk, though.

I started out at The Ridge Church, which is hosting a Red Cross shelter for people made homeless by the storm. (Follow them on Twitter.) That’s where I heard the first two stories above.

The three-car garage that wasn't there, after the Dayton area tornadoes

The three-car garage that wasn’t there.

Stories to Tell

One mom told of how her home had been flattened. She’d had her tears that morning, but she was happy to have someone to talk with. Church staff steered me to a single woman who was still badly shaken up. She was at least grateful for the showers they provided. Not a church-goer, she seemed open to connecting with God again, and I’m praying she’ll go to The Ridge this weekend.

Driving by the fire station I noticed they were offering “Water for flushing.” Even where I live, a forty-five minute drive away, we’re under a boil-and-conserve water advisory. But then we weren’t that all that far from the storms here, either; the tornadoes traveled across all of Dayton, passing by about seven to eight miles north of our home.

Completely demolished home after tornado

This home was completely demolished, along with half the home to the left of it.

I walked around the most badly stricken area, praying with people at their badly damaged homes.

Enormous Devastation

You’ve seen some of this on TV. The devastation there is enormous. And quirky. One woman told me the storm had taken a left turn just barely past her home; it only clipped her back porch slightly. I asked, “Then what is this pile of debris by the driveway?” “Oh, we had a pole barn here on the driveway.” It took the barn but not her home. The home that lost its three car garage had little damage on its main structure except broken windows.

One resident pointed to his pickup truck parked on the street. “That’s where it was parked before the storm, too. But on Tuesday morning it was in the yard, on its side, facing the other way, with that huge tree you see there laying on it.”

Back yards in Brookville after the tornadoes

Back yards in Brookville

Courage and Faith

For all the destruction, I saw incredible courage there. “This is Brookville. We come together.” One woman acknowledged she’d had her cry on Wednesday morning, but that was only after making it through all that needed doing about her totally flattened home on Tuesday.

One resident after another spoke of how thankful they were that no lives were lost there. (There was just one death that night, in Celina, Ohio, north of Brookville.) I can only echo their thanks in Brookville. Having seen the crushed homes — none of which had basements — it’s impossible to imagine how everyone could have survived. In large part it’s attributable to the city’s excellent warning systems, but that can’t explain it all. More than one resident attributed it to God, and gave Him thanks.

Cars, too, badly damaged in tornado

Cars and trucks, too.

How You Can Help

Brookville represents more than just its own community this week. America’s midsection is suffering historic flooding. There’s been a rash of tornadoes across the country. One lesson I learned yesterday was that I could help, even with injuries that keep me from lifting and loading for cleanup. You, too, can help, if you can just take time to listen. One Brookville resident thanked me about a dozen times, just for taking some time with her.

And we can all help through prayer and by making donations to help meet urgent physical needs. They’re our neighbors. We can show them we care.

(All photos by Tom Gilson. Click images for full-size photos.)


Tom Gilson is a senior editor with The Stream, and the author of A Christian Mind: Thoughts on Life and Truth in Jesus Christ. Follow him on Twitter: @TomGilsonAuthor.

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