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Finding Joy in the Storm of the Dayton Tornado

Field Report by Justin Jenkins

OHIO, USA – When you have a 10-year-old daughter as joyful as Shiloh, it’s hard to feel down. Even if less than one week ago you narrowly escaped a devastating EF-4 tornado, only to be left with downed trees and mounds of debris strewn across your yard. Debris so thick you can hardly take a step without stumbling.

None of these things broke the spirit of Nicole, a 45-year-old single mom in Dayton, Ohio. The only thing that brought her to tears was when she talked about her daughter, Shiloh, and how much she loved her.

A Scary Night as Tornado Strikes

The night of the storm, rain fell hard and hail banged against the windows. Nicole was upstairs with Shiloh and her son, Jimmy. Their TV was turned off, and she didn’t hear any alerts come across her phone. But things sounded pretty bad and she started to grow concerned.

Nicole's home is damaged after the storm.

She got up to look out the window, and as soon as she did she was startled by a loud cracking noise. She had no clue what it was, but she knew it was bad. They hurried down to the basement together. Once they got down there the storm hit full force. “You could hear the transformers popping,” Nicole recalled. “It almost sounded like gunshots: pop, pop, pop, pop, pop.”

“We didn’t know how bad it was until we walked outside after it was over,” she said. Trees lined her lawn, many snapped in half and strewn in pieces across the ground. A massive blue spruce in the back yard was uprooted and laying on its side. Limbs from her neighbor’s trees had fallen all across her yard as well. The family couldn’t even get off their street because a huge tree blocked the entire road. It was a dead-end street, and that was the only way out.

Joy Comes in the Difficult Time

Nicole stands in her storm damaged yard as Operation Blessing volunteers provide tornado relief.

But, thanks to your support, Operation Blessing rushed in to help the community of Dayton with disaster aid. As our volunteers walked up to Nicole’s house you could see the relief wash over her face. Someone had come to her rescue. We prayed with her, encouraged her, and then got right to work. We took a chainsaw to those heavy limbs and hauled off the debris. By the time our volunteers finished, a giant wall of branches piled high on the edge of her front yard ready for pick up.

While we worked, Nicole told us her 72-year-old mother, who lives by herself, resides right down the street. Her house was also devastated by the storm. Our volunteers knew just what to do! They asked Nicole to get her mother so they could pray with her and find out how they can help. Nicole’s mother, Anita, will now have Operation Blessing come in to assist her as well!

Nicole and daughter with volunteer team.

“It made me tingle inside,” Nicole said, “because you’re just a group of people here to help. I’ve felt nothing but joy all day. This is the most normal I’ve felt in over a week. I’m so thankful.”

Thank you for your prayers and your support for Dayton, Ohio. Without you, moms like Nicole wouldn’t get the help they so desperately need.

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