I keep my heart and my soul and my spirit open to miracles.
- Patrick Swayze
In the movie The Wizard of Oz, a twister comes and picks up Dorothy’s Kansas farmhouse, transporting her somewhere over the rainbow. She lands safe and unharmed; the wicked witch wasn’t so lucky.
As we’ve seen time and time again, however, this fantasy ignores the truth about the devastating impact of tornadoes. They leave a trail of wanton destruction wherever they go. Homes and towns are reduced to rubble, lives are lost.
The Ashworth family of Bertram, Texas, seemed to be the latest casualty of one of these terrifying forces of nature. Last week, their small town, 45 miles north of Austin, was hit by an EF-2-rated tornado with 125 MPH winds. The funnel cloud touched down right over the Ashworths’ home. Rescue workers expected the worst when they arrived. Where the family of four had once lived, nothing was left but a foundation.
Then they saw it: A hundred yards away, the house had landed, completely intact. All four family members emerged–alive and unharmed.
Trent Ashworth told KXAN News that his family had sought shelter in the bathroom. “We pulled the mattress over and we shut this door. This door blew through and we heard it hit and felt the suction and we just hunkered down praying.” Then they felt the house rise. They kept praying until the house fell back to Earth and the storm passed.
“Thank God for his protection because if it wasn’t for him, we’d be gone,” Trent said. “Me and my wife built that house; it took us four years to do it–lots of blood, sweat and tears in that house. [It's] by the grace of God that we’re alive. Nobody got hurt–none of our animals, none of us. We got little scrapes and stuff, but God was good to us today...”
Meteorologists know how tornados form from the updrafts and pressure changes that accompany large supercell storms. They know that the middle of the country is prone to these atmospheric conditions. But even 25-year National Weather Service veteran Jon Zeitler couldn’t quite explain how the Ashworths made it through the twister alive. Was it only due to the solid construction of their home?
“I’ve been doing meteorology 25 years and I’ve never seen an intact house moved this kind of a distance,” Zeitler says. “It’s something else, this is literally like Wizard of Oz.”
No word on whether striped stockings and ruby slippers were found underneath.
We’ll be praying for all those affected by this tornado season. As Nikki McCurtain, a Moore, Oklahoma, tornado survivor wrote in her story, it’s impossible for us to understand why some live and others die in these disasters. But whether it’s a sign of protection or a light to lead the way forward, the hand of God is often witnessed by survivors of these storms, even in the midst of tragedy.
How about you? How were you sheltered in the midst of a storm?