Odelia Lewis, 84, will never forget the April 27 storms that rolled through her rural neighborhood.
Aunt Lu Lu, as my husband and his siblings affectionately call her, was sitting comfortably on the den sofa in her brick home in Rosedale that morning.
Just before 9 a.m., the sky turned black and she heard a crash that left her house shaking. “I said ‘run,’” she told several family members. “I could see the sky through the ceiling,” she recalled.
A tree plunged through the backside of her house, sending debris flying.
“But nothing hit us,” she said. “We were blessed. God was looking out for us.”
As a result of years of storm and termite damage, the home that Aunt Lu Lu’s late husband, Charles, built some 52 years ago was razed in June.
Her sister, Lillie B., invited her to move into her home.
This was the second time a tree had fallen on Aunt Lu Lu’s home — one had also hit it in 2008’s Hurricane Gustav. So she had to make a difficult decision about the dozen tall shade trees surrounding her home. “I’ve had them all cut down,” she said.
Much of her home’s damaged furniture had to be discarded. But losing her home, she admitted, was the hardest pill to swallow. She’d raised two of her own biological sons, Clarence and Charles, there and three other children she took in.
Faith, family and big hearts have helped her stay encouraged.
“I wasn’t upset because I know God has my back, and he is going to give me something better,” she said.
While her sole source of income is from Social Security, Aunt Lu Lu knew she would not have the money to rebuild again.
Her family and church community went into action.
“I told my family that God is going to take care of me,” she said.
Her church, Rosehill Baptist, several other area churches, and a male chorus group have hosted community fundraisers.
“People have been marvelous,” Aunt Lu Lu said.
The concrete slab that will hold her new trailer was donated. “The insurance companies have helped me, too,” she said.
She gets teary-eyed about “the spirit of people wanting to help. People asked me if I needed help and I said ‘yes’ and so they are helping me,” she said.
She does not want to rebuild a home. “I’ve gotten too old for that,” she quipped.
But she is excited about her new trailer. “It’s going to be a double-wide, four-room trailer,” she said.
Aunt Lu Lu’s eyes still twinkle when she talks about God and all that her friends, family and even strangers have given her.
“God blessed me. I am happy and I thank everyone who has given me a hand.”
Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.