Post-storm assessments have revealed that over 149 homes/businesses were destroyed in Atoka County. The Tushka community and the surrounding areas have endured great loss, yet with all the devastation, only two lives were taken. We are all humbled by God’s grace even in the midst of such tragedy. It could have been far more tragic.
Many of us have relatives, friends and church family members who survived this tragedy. There are many incredible stories where the aftermath reveals homes being destroyed, but lives miraculously spared. Incidents where the tornado was on the ground then rose above a home just barely missing it while twisting off the tops of the trees that surrounded the house itself. Stories of a home reduced to rubble except for the only room where people were taking shelter. Upon seeing this firsthand, as I did over the weekend, there is no denying the Lord’s intervention.
The day following the storm my 90 year-old grandfather and I spent the afternoon together. His home is located just a mile north of Tushka. His home and ranch property were spared but his church family was left with a decimated church building. Upon surveying the damage with him and others, we saw a scene worthy of recollection. The brick walls of their Baptist church were plummeted yet an old wooden cross (used as a podium) was still standing. It stood untouched in the midst of the destruction. Although the cross was adjacent to the decimated brick wall it remained unscathed. To some this oddity may be easily dismissed but to me its symbolism speaks volumes. It is a reminder of what stands unchanged in the midst of tragedy... Faith, hope and love.
During this difficult time, we must strive to be thankful for God’s goodness. Although horrific, it could have been much worse. It’s a time to remember how important our friends and family really are and just how blessed we are to have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I never cease to be amazed at the strength and resolve of Oklahomans following these catastrophic incidents. Our state is unique in our strength to overcome adversity. I think that strong sense of community and family comes from our spiritual faith. I’ve talked to people in other states where storms have devastated communities, but those communities didn’t come together like a family to help one another like they do in Oklahoma. The nation has seen our state struck continuously with natural and manmade disasters, but we never hang our heads and feel sorry for ourselves. Adversity only makes us stronger and brings us closer together.
To all of the hundreds of volunteers (individuals, local churches and ministries, non-profits, etc) who have stepped up to help all of those families who were affected by the storms we say “Thank you”. Surrounding this tragedy has been so much kindness demonstrated though volunteers cleaning up debris, cooking meals and delivering them, trimming trees, or simply digging through debris to help recover lost items. The outpouring has been and continues to be amazing.
Those affected by this will continue to need assistance long after the media attention wanes. There are many people who have committed to be benevolent in the weeks ahead and this is when it will be most needed. They do so truly with servants’ hearts and will do so likely without notice, yet we do notice. Thank You for persevering and serving your fellow man!!!
On a side note, for the students and faculty of Tushka School, the damage to the school is only a temporary setback until the school can be rebuilt. The reconstruction is scheduled to start during the summer months and will be funded via an insurance policy that was carried by the school. Tushka School will continue its historic and needed role and will emerge victorious from this tragedy. The only changes for the school will be a new look and new buildings and the noticeable reminder of April 14th.
To contact me at the Capitol, please write to Senator Josh Brecheen, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 513A, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (405) 521-5586.