I met a man during the weekend at Pennyrile Campground/Lodge just outside of Dawson Springs, KY. His name is Sam Webb.
He was a dishoveled man whose hair looked a frightful mess. His clothing was mostly bed clothing with a sweater. He was sitting on the balcony of the motel style building in his wheelchair. He’d lost a leg from some issue he had that I know not of. I say that he had to be cold, because the outside temperature at that time was in the upper 20’s.
He was pointed out to us by a couple who are members of the Lion’s Club that had brought him a hospital bed and mobilized wheelchair. The married couple tended to think he was a bit mentally off. They kind of tilted their heads as to say without him seeing that said he was fearful of “the monster”. But I beg to differ. They did say he would likely talk to us, so we called over to him and he waved so we walked over to him.
I asked could we talk in a warm place and he said yes, but not in his room. He had a room mate who was sleeping and he didn’t want to wake him. There was an atrium nearby that was heated so we went there. Every one that worked at the Lodge like him and they took extra measure to ensure he was taken care of.
As we sat to talk he did ramble a bit, but he was coherent. In the conversation we understood his situation as it unfolded. He was in the beginning stage of Alzheimer’s. He’d had several heart attacks and strokes. He had to fight in his speech and with his memory.
Then came the revelation that he had been an evangelist earlier in life until he become disabled. In fact he related to us he had met Evangelist R.W. Schambach with whom he had spoke. He said he was told by Evangelist Schambach that he was called to the ministry, which he took to heart and soon after began preaching. As we swapped stories I spoke guardedly with him till at some point I found out his belief system was rooted in Pentecostalism. Then I spoke openly of how I prayed in tongues during a hurricane when I heard a tornado coming. That was when he opened up to tell us of his ordeal during the tornado he had encountered in December.
He said they got word to seek shelter in place to ride out the winds since there was no where to go. It was coming too quickly to escape. So he and his room mate tried to get into the bathroom, but he could not get through the door. The winds were reaching a peak where he felt the house giving way and at some point he thought he was going to die. His wheelchair lifted off the floor as though the next stop would be in the hereafter. His conclusion of having survived has left him with an inextricable comfort in not fearing death anymore.
Yet even so he is afraid to sleep for fear of what he calls “the monster” will come back during sleep and take him away violently. Death is not his issue. It’s the “how” part that he’s not wanting. That being another tornado.
When the wind subsided he said it got very quiet and for a time and then came the voices calling for help to come get them. There was a baby crying up over them for they lived on a lower level in an apartment building. People were crying, calling for loved ones doing whatever one could do after such a catastrophe. He said it was horrible.
His story was not one that was any different than others we talked to. Some spoke of living in a mobile home where the walls seemed to breath in and out during the height of the winds. One woman found her husband five houses down the street. I don’t think he survived. There was something like 17-20 lives lost during the onslaught.
I could speak of more, but we must know this final thing before I stop. God is in control of all things. Even in disaster. Despite the loss of life. Despite the loss of material things those that remain that we talked to are resilient and fighting their mental overload from losing everything and some having lost family.
You have to remember this happened on the 10th of December. A Christmas for this town was ripped from their intended schedule. There was no Christmas for them. They lost it all. Yet those that remain are finding that there is something to look forward to after such a devastating turn of events.
Yes, there is still fear of the unknown, but there is also faith for a better tomorrow. I pray for this town as they move forward. Won’t you?