Shining moments: Help after the storm

In just seconds, a tornado devastated the lives of Calvin and Susie Brooks. Less than a week later, members of the priesthood and the Relief Society in the Hopewell Ward, Richmond Virginia Chesterfield Stake, helped put their lives back together.

The tornado, with winds up to 250 miles per hour, tore through the apartment complex where Brother and Sister Brooks lived on Aug. 6, 1993. Sister Brooks wasn't home at the time; Brother Brooks, 72, was. He wasn't physically injured, but suffered emotional trauma.He said he was on his living room couch when "all of a sudden I heard a sound that sounded like five freight trains. The walls began to shake, and debris that was being hurled through the air by the wind began battering the apartment building."

The windows in his home blew out. The building was shaking, glass was flying and debris was pounding the walls. Then Brother Brooks saw the roof torn off from over his head.

Police and firefighters quickly arrived on the scene.

"We were ordered to leave without being allowed back in our apartments," Brother Brooks said. "Everything I owned was in that apartment except for my car.

"I had thought I would live out the rest of my life in that apartment, and all of a sudden it was gone."

Not only did Brother and Sister Brooks have clothes and typical family items, but also journals of their missions among the Indians in Arizona and valuable handmade jewelry, blankets and Navajo dolls. The keepsakes had been given to them out of respect and love by Indian friends, and the value went beyond monetary worth.

The tornado struck on Friday, and it was Monday before Brother and Sister Brooks could obtain passes to re-enter their apartment.

They made plans to say goodbye to their damaged home and move their possessions to a new residence. That's when a crew of 24 fellow Church members stepped in to assist them with the moving.

"They really took care of us," Brother Brooks said. "They did everything, even the packing and unpacking. Susie and I didn't have to lift a finger. They showed what the gospel in action is. They did a great job. I had just been very ill and even had a stay in the hospital.

"They did more than they knew." - Becky Robinette Wright, Meadowbrook Ward, Richmond Virginia Chesterfield Stake

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