Gel Jamlang for Reader's Digest
One minute, Peggy Lewis and her husband, Harris Lee, were watching the trees blow in the wind outside their home in Eureka, Kansas. The next, they were surrounded by swirling shards of glass from the house’s broken windows. The roof tore off. The walls caved in. After the 152-mph tornado had passed, it took a team of neighbors to pull the couple from the rubble and take them to the hospital. “I thought we were going to die,” says Lewis, 58. Here are other unbelievable natural disasters that have happened in the United States.
When the pair returned to their property three days after that awful night last June, it was clear that what remained of the house would need to be torn down. But before Lewis would let that happen, she wanted one thing—her family Bible.
Lewis had bought the Bible 35 years earlier, at the start of her marriage. Like many folks, she’d used it to hold and preserve her family’s history: decades-old photos, newspaper obituaries of loved ones, a handkerchief from her great-grandmother, a lock of her daughter’s hair, even a piece of a scarf her uncle had brought back from the Korean War.
The Bible was the first thing Lewis looked for when she returned to the house. It wasn’t where she’d last seen it, on top of an antique dresser in her bedroom. In fact, the dresser wasn’t there at all. The only thing that was left was the solid slab of marble that had been the top of the piece of furniture.
When two volunteers showed up to help the couple dig out, Lewis had one mission for them: “If you can find anything,” she said, “please find my Bible.”
After an hour of searching, one of the volunteers ran up to her. She had tears streaming down her cheeks and a book in her hands. The young woman had found the Bible while sifting through rubble. It had flown approximately ten feet from that ill-fated dresser. Stunningly, while many books inside the home had been destroyed beyond recognition, the Bible was still intact, even though it had sat in the rain for days. “I completely broke down,” says Lewis. “I thought it was gone forever. It was a miracle.”
A few of the Bible’s treasures did go missing. But ever so slowly, they, too, began reappearing in Lewis’s life. Days after the Bible was found, volunteers discovered one of the newspaper obituaries outside the home. Two weeks later, a neighbor found another newspaper clipping by her house. “It was such a shock,” says Lewis. Find out the one thing that natural disaster survivors wish they had done differently.
Lewis and her family are living at a friend’s house until they get back on their feet. But the Bible already has its well-deserved place of honor, on Lewis’s borrowed dresser. She knows that while every good book tells stories of catastrophic weather and unlikely survival, this one actually lived it.