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Adria and Lydia left the house Wednesday morning around 5:15 am to head to a United Methodist youth conference in Kansas City. It was raining pretty hard, thunder and lightning, so I didn’t really go back to sleep. Around 7:30 I started moving so I could take Benjamin to camp and then roll into the office. I had been on the road 4 weeks straight so was looking forward to a light day.

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Around 8 my phone alert indicated there was a tornado warning in the area. I was surprised because tornadoes are pretty rare here. So I turned on WDSU to see what my friend Kweilyn Murphy was saying about the weather (she is my official meteorologist!) She showed a warning where the storm was moving from the Lakefront, to Gentilly, to Dillard, to Lakeview. The president’s house was right in line. So I told Benjamin that we needed to go downstairs to the laundry room.

Once downstairs I could see the rain blowing sideways and the sky getting darker. Then the lights went out, so I knew something was close. While in the laundry room it didn’t sound like a train, but like metal scraping against the ground. Maybe for 30 seconds. We stayed in there no more than 10 minutes, and when we came out it was till raining pretty hard. I waited until about 9 to go out to see what kind of damage we had.

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We had mostly broken branches, a couple of big tree limbs (one which took out the cable line), and shingles from the roof. I told Benjamin let’s start to get the big pieces and put them on the curb. I then looked down the street on our side, 2 doors down, and realized what we missed.

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It looked like a direct hit by a tornado. Massive destruction. The metal fence around the house in places was bent like a truck ran into it. Soon, a number of neighbors were in the street surveying the damage to the house. Within 30 minutes there was a large crew from Entergy. The guy told me their gas line was broken so they were there to cut it off.

This was the news story of the day. I think every station covered this house, amazed no one was hurt. And I could only think how close we were to it. I think the possible tornado came off the bayou, took out our next door neighbor’s deck and damaged their roof, before the direct hit.

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We were without power for a few hours, and cable for a day. But it was a good lesson for Benjamin and reminder for me about the difference between inconvenience and incapacitation. Too many times we all complain when we are inconvenienced. The power goes out. There is a boil water advisory.

But if your house gets destroyed you are incapacitated. Everything is now in chaos. They were really just glad to be alive.

There is a rock band called 3 Doors Down. Their debut album was called “The Better Life.” I think we all could live a better life if we are thankful for what we have, thankful for the inconveniences, and working to develop the resilience needed if we are incapacitated. I’ve been thinking about that alot…

… especially with my view. 2 doors down.

The Prez

Written by

7th president of Dillard University

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