The power of lightning -- and prayer

The power of lightning –- and prayer. Two forces that converged during the height of last week's storms near the to...

Posted: Apr 18, 2018 1:47 PM
Updated: Apr 18, 2018 1:48 PM

The power of lightning –- and prayer. Two forces that converged during the height of last week's storms near the town of Castor in Bienville Parish.

The lightning strike began at the top of a pine tree in Betty Warren's yard. It's a tree that's weathered many a storm for several decades.

Discoloration marks where the lightning bolt first blew away the bark and with quicker-than-the-eye-can-see speed made an exit from the bottom of the tree where the ground was plowed and singed from the intense heat.

Only 2 seconds lapsed from the lightning strike to the damage it caused.

Warren, clutching the very Bible she had been reading that night, shares what happened: "I get ready for any bad weather and I had my purse and medication bag and my Bible. And I had anointed this place that I would be protected. And thank you, Jesus, that I would be protected," said the 75-year-old Warren.

The strike happened just after midnight as an intense line of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes were racing across the ArkLaTex.

"I heard a loud bomb; it sounded like a bomb and I got up immediately. I went to the back door and all I could see was door open to a well house," Warren said.

The door had been blown off from the blast effect. The ground around the base of the tree plowed to shreds.

Electrical wires that power the water well pump were fried and the face plate blown from the steel box and impaled into the siding of the house. The wires to the junction box whipped more than 30 feet through air and landed in a flower bed.

Under the porch area are burn marks where the electrical wires were burned next to the door.

Wires for the telephone were burned away so with no phone service Warren drove to the home of her daughter and son-in-law who lived about a mile away.

"And I said 'help,'" Warren said. "And after he got me settled down I told him what happened but I had not been outside because the wires might be live, you know."

"I'm terrified of the weather and I depend on you guys to tell me what's about to take place. She came in and she couldn't talk and shaking. First thing that went through my mind was a home invasion possibly," son-in-law Danny Weaver said.

A home invasion, yes, but an invasion of fire and brimstone and lightning.

Weaver went back to Warren's home to find the inside junction and fuse boxes burned.

But more notable, in Warren's bedroom, where she would usually be lying down to sleep, was the ceiling fan. It had fallen onto the bed, but fortunately, Warren had moved to the couch in the living room as the storm approached. She says it's the only safe place in the entire house.

Evidence of the lightning strike even more so evident with broken windows in her bedroom – blown outward into the yard by the blast.

Has some like this every happened before?

"A place where I lived on Highway 153. Lightning struck a transformer across the road. Had young children then and my husband and I go out of the house. We survived but the house did not. It just burned down," Warren said.

The tree will not survive and will be removed. Electricians have already visited the home to begin rewiring so this place Warren calls home will become habitable again.

In the interim, Warren will live with her daughter and son-in-law, who said Thanksgiving will be bigger and more meaningful this year.

What is next for this retired school Castor High School teacher, whose daughter teachers in the very same classroom where her mother instructed students?

"What's next is to keep on living and trusting in the Lord," Warren said.

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