May 24, 2015

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Do unto others

Published 10:28 am Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Local church rebuilds woman’s home

Miguel Rodriguez, center, helps other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints repair the home of Christina Washington on Redhawk Road Saturday using materials donated from local businesses. A tree fell trough the trailer home during the April 28 tornado.
Miguel Rodriguez, center, helps other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints repair the home of Christina Washington on Redhawk Road Saturday using materials donated from local businesses. A tree fell trough the trailer home during the April 28 tornado.

The tornado that ripped a path of destruction through Warren County April 28 began as an odd-sounding swirl to Christina Washington.

“We were by the door and we were watching it rain,” she said amid thick tree stumps and a pile of debris in front of her Redhawk Road trailer, sliced in two by the EF-1 that hit the south-central part of the county with winds up to 105 mph. “And then the wind came. The trees across the street were going crazy over there. I thought maybe we need to take shelter in the bathroom, or leave completely.”

Washington, her son, Robert, and her grandson, D.J., didn’t have but an instant’s notice. The main bedroom was crushed by a huge tree that fell eastward from the woods beside the trailer, knocking out power and nearly all communication the family had, save for smartphones.

Christina Washington, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stands beside a large pine tree Saturday that a tornado sent crashing through her home on Redhawk Road.
Christina Washington, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stands beside a large pine tree Saturday that a tornado sent crashing through her home on Redhawk Road.

“We heard it fall. We turned around and heard it go ‘boom’— right on top of my bed. It was just a few minutes, and it was over. I didn’t hear no train sound like they always say. It was like any other rainstorm. The weather was just crazy.”

It was a text message from her son to members of his church that started a chain reaction of post-storm volunteerism that continues for Washington in the form of a rebuilt trailer.

“He texted some people in his church, and 10 to 15 minutes later, church people were here.”

Word reached volunteers with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which sent yellow-shirted construction crews to Washington’s place and others to rebuild from the tornado.

Washington who is currently renting the trailer will be able to buy the trailer afterward, said Jen Chappell, a coordinator of the response with the church. A crew of about a dozen church members spent Saturday morning sawing logs and removing them from Washington’s bedroom. Donated supplies from local building supply stores made the repair job possible, Chappell said.

She’s still without power — her electrical box is in shambles not far from where the tree took out a back porch. A curtain of polyethylene paper protects the trailer until she completes a transfer of the trailer to her ownership. From there, volunteers will complete the reconstruction job, she said.

Miguel Rodriguez, top, and Angel Reynosa repair the home of Christina Washington on Redhawk Road Saturday using materials donated from local businesses after a tree fell through the structure during the April 28 tornado.
Miguel Rodriguez, top, and Angel Reynosa repair the home of Christina Washington on Redhawk Road Saturday using materials donated from local businesses after a tree fell through the structure during the April 28 tornado.

“I’m grateful for everything they did,” said Washington, a native of Germany and former apartment manager who had just moved into the trailer a month ago. “I don’t know how much it would have cost to do this without the church. It was a blessing.”

At least 16 structures were damaged in Warren County during the April 28 tornado outbreak. Of the 14 confirmed twisters by the National Weather Service, the strongest was in Louisville, an EF-4 which produced winds up to 200 mph.