Groves Church, family work to help Cisco tornado victims

Published 8:29 pm Tuesday, May 12, 2015

GROVES — First Baptist Church in Groves is looking to help the family of one of its own who lost their home to a deadly tornado in Cisco, Texas on Saturday.
Church members Debbie and Mike Gil’s 83-year-old aunt, Phyllis Berry Graham and her son Rex Graham, were inside their home in the sparsely populated town when the twister hit. There was no warning only the telltale ‘train engine’ sound of the tornado. Rex Graham was able to push his mother toward a pantry where they barely had time to shut the door when the twister struck.
The elderly woman and her son, who is diabetic and has heart problems, were thrown to a neighbor’s yard. Soon they were being pelted with hail and were forced to hide in a goat pen.
“They had cuts all over and were pretty bruised up but thank God, no broken bones,” Debbie Gil said. “They have a long recovery ahead of them.”
While they recover physically there remains the issue of the loss of their home and all of their belongings. Gil and other family members are making a trip to Cisco to try and clean the property and locate personal items, if possible.
The church, located at 4000 Grant Ave. in Groves, will accept donations. The list includes: Cash, gift cards to Walmart, Dollar General, Dairy Queen, Subway and Sonic, Gatorade and drinks, bottled water (individual and gallon jugs), sun block, bug spray, large trash bags, old linens, tarps and Sterlite style tubs with lids.
The family is also hoping to find someone who would be willing to loan a metal detector so they can search for small, hidden valuables such as wedding rings.
Gil said the land her aunt lived on had been in the family a long time and included the home she had built with her husband.
“We’re hoping we can go and find a wedding ring or maybe a family Bible under the stacks of stuff,” she said.
Both Graham and her son remain hospitalized and the town are waiting for Red Cross and other agencies to assist. But, in the meantime there’s the issue of sifting through what’s left of the home which is one of three that were destroyed during the storm.Cisco tornado 1
The items requested by the family will go to help the volunteers. Gil explained that there is no shade on the family property and other family members and volunteers have suffered sunburns working to clean the property.
She added that a church member had a furnished home nearby that can be used by the family temporarily when they are discharged from the hospital.
“Please pray for them as they heal, try to locate their personal possessions, for safety of those that are helping, as they establish a new place to live, among the other many needs they will have in the days ahead,” church secretary Kathy Hendon said in an e-mail.
Donations may be dropped off at the church office.
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