First the sky turns a pale green. Then an eerie stillness settles over the land.
Suddenly the wind picks up and huge chunks of hail rain down. People compare the noise during the storm to the sound of a freight train passing.
Once the winds die out and the sirens fade into silence, there’s nothing left but the wreckage. Crumbling buildings. Broken glass and pieces of plaster in the street. Clothes, photos, books and other possessions strewn across lawns.
From April 25 to 28, historic tornadoes ripped through southern parts of the U.S., killing more than 340 people in six states.
Here we share stories of how Modern Woodmen was able to help members move forward after the storm.
Driving around in the aftermath, J.D. Holt saw houses ripped to their foundations.
“You could see nothing but rubble for three miles,” says the Modern Woodmen representative from Hokes Bluff, Ala. “It was like someone had crushed the town in the palm of his hand.”
While J.D.’s home and family were spared, some of his members weren’t as lucky. Shaun and Stephanie Hall* had driven to Shuan’s parents’ house with their 6-year-old daughter, Hannah,* to wait out the storm. The house took a direct hit from a tornado, and only Hannah survived.
Shaun had purchased life insurance in February. Because of his decision, Hannah will have money to put toward her future. She will also receive money through Modern Woodmen’s Orphan Benefit, a fraternal benefit that provides monetary support and a college scholarship for the orphaned member child or orphaned child of member parents.
“Death is never easy,” J.D. says. “But having that financial assistance is extremely important when you’re dealing with emotional stress.”
When J.D. drove out to tell Shaun and Stephanie’s family about the Orphan Benefit, the family members were shocked.
“To be honest, I’m amazed too,” J.D. says. “What kind of organization provides something like this to protect its members?”
He was also able to perform a special fundraiser to help a local organization rebuild after being destroyed in the storm. Modern Woodmen’s home office matched the proceeds.
“This really changes your view on what we’re called to do here at Modern Woodmen,” he says. “What we do truly matters.”
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.