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‘God was with us that day’

By Bill Sanders

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GRANBURY, Texas (May 17, 2013) — Even before Wednesday’s tornado, Wilma Walker’s life has been tough.

Degenerative disc disease has left her in a wheelchair. She has survived domestic abuse, she said, along with rampant drug and gun violence in neighborhoods where she lived. Throughout, she felt compelled to move again and again, uprooting her three children frequently in search of something better.

That pattern changed in 2002, when she and her three daughters moved into a Habitat home in Granbury, Texas.

“It was the happiest moment in my life other than the birth of my girls,” she said.

Walker’s home was badly damaged May 15 by the EF4 tornado that ripped through town, with winds up to 200 mph.

“We were all home,” said her eldest daughter, Stephanie Powell. “My husband, our two sons, Mom, three cats, a bird and our fish.”

“My husband’s friends kept saying there was bad weather coming, but I thought he was just trying to mess with me because he knows how paranoid I am about storms,” Powell said. “It didn’t take much convincing for me to start packing everything into the bathroom and taking it seriously.”

Up in Richardson, about an hour northeast of Granbury, Walker’s youngest daughter, Wynonna, 23, was watching the news Wednesday night and trying frantically to reach her family by telephone.

“I was shaking all night,” she said. “Then, around midnight, on the news I see my sister, and then my mom and nephews coming out of their house. I was so relieved.”

Much damage had been done, though.

“The roof was ripped off,” Powell said. “While we were all in the bathroom, it was horrible. Air was coming up through the toilet, the smell of dirt was overwhelming, and glass was flying under the door.

“I thought it was over,” she said. “But God was with us that day.”

The family is staying with various family and friends until they can figure out how to rebuild.