2017 Canton Tornado
April 29, 2017 is a day I will never forget. My name is David Broussard and I am a metal artist/sculptor who lives in Canton Texas. I display my work every month at the world famous Canton First Monday Trade Days which has taken place every month for well over 100 years. Thousands of people were out enjoying themselves and the weather called for thunderstorms that would take place later that night, but around 4:00 pm, the weather started turning for the worse. Sirens went off and there were tornado warning alerts on my phone every few minutes. People started scrambling for their cars and vendors started closing their shops.
A little after 5:00 pm, I grabbed a ride home with Shannon and Becky Cunningham, vendors from Louisiana who stay in our guest house. It was raining hard and the sky was very dark. When I got home, Michelle was soaked and her bible was wet. She had been standing in the back yard speaking the Word of God over the storm. She was declaring Psalm 91 over our life, our property, our friends and neighbors. When I put my things up, I joined her.
I remember us standing in the back yard, facing southwest and looking at this wall of terror coming at us. You could hear it in the distance. All of a sudden, the wind stopped and not a leaf was moving on any of the trees. It was like watching a horror movie where there’s a moment of silence before the monster springs out of nowhere to snatch its prey. That is truly what it was like. The wind started to pick up again and the sound of the tornado grew all the more intense. It is a sound that I will never forget as long as I live. I’ve heard people talk about tornados sounding like a freight train but I could never quiet understand it. If you’ve ever been close to a train traveling at full speed, there is a rumble that is very distinct. What I heard was like several trains at one time.
At the same time Shannon and Becky were standing outside the guest house and Becky was watching the swings in our front oak tree. She saw them swing high back and forth, but then they blew up into the tree and disappeared. She yelled at Shannon to get in the house. They were also standing in agreement with us, praying Psalm 91.
When the wind started blowing harder where we could no longer safely stand in the back yard, we ran into the house and stood in a room behind the brick fireplace. Michelle and I did not lay down but stood in that room declaring the Word over our lives, our house, our property and the same for our neighbors.
I have to say that even though we were very concerned about the intensity of the moment and our hearts were racing, we were not fearful. We were not freaking out at all. When I think back over the brief moments that this storm from hell was on us, we stood firm and declared the salvation of the Lord on our lives. “Though a thousand fall at my side, even 10,000 at my right hand, it will not come upon me. Only with my eyes shall I look upon the destruction.” We declared and believed it would not touch our dwelling place. I had my arms around Michelle and told her I loved her and that we were going to be fine. We definitely were standing in agreement.
While were were inside declaring the Word over us, we did not hear anything except our voices. We have many windows in our home and not a single window vibrated. After maybe a couple of minutes, we paused and it was eerily quiet and still. We went to a side door of our home and looked out the window and the sky was a lighter gray and we saw some branches on the ground. I remember Michelle saying she was surprised that it wasn’t that bad after all. Then we stepped out of the house and looked to the back yard and were blown away by what we saw. One of our oaks by the patio was snapped off at the ground. A huge tulip poplar, about 2.5 feet at its base, which is only five feet from our back door was snapped off right at the top of our roof line. The even bigger poplar at the corner of our back yard was completely pushed over and uprooted, destroying a section of steel fence. We have huge 2 – 3 foot in diameter Blue Spruce trees all over our property that were snapped in two like pencils.
There are 4 metal buildings in back of our home. The first one is an RV shed which we do not put to use. Heavily damaged! Next to it is Michelle’s office with an attached warehouse for inventory etc. We use it daily. It is completely intact. Next to it is another building that we don’t use that was destroyed.
Across from it was a double carport steel building where I keep my trailer in which I store all my display for shows. It was destroyed by a cedar that fell on it, but it stopped about three inches from the top of the trailer. Last of all, the biggest building where I do my metal work, which contains all of my equipment and tools was completely untouched except for the weather head that brings electricity to the building. One of the big trees that fell ripped it from the building. There are four long metal vents on top of the roof. They were completely intact yet a three foot spruce directly behind the building about 20 feet from vents was snapped off just a few feet higher than the vents. The other cedar of the same size is pushed over and crashed into another cedar of the same size and broke it at the base.
Another surprise was our radio antenna, which is our only source for internet signal was not damaged, yet was equally as high and in line with the trees only a few feet away.
My van that I use for shows was parked three feet from the building that was the most heavily damaged. In fact, the porch in front of the building was completely destroyed and tin was laying everywhere, but the van was untouched. We have a tower that is as tall as the trees that is connected to Michelle’s office where she makes jewelry. This is where we get our signal for our cell phones and internet. Without it, we can’t run our business. It is no more than 20 feet from one tree and 30 feet from the other, directly in between them. The trees were snapped off and yet that tower which we must have for communication was intact.
Now after a day of having the road cleaned where we can get out, we saw the scope of our experience. This storm came at us from the Southwest where it completely destroyed many homes and beautiful trees. We were dead center in the path of this monster storm. The biggest oaks are on the south side of our house and all the trees that were destroyed fell to the north. These huge oaks would have destroyed our home. When the tornado reached our property, it took out a few trees at the front, lifted over these oaks and our house, destroying only the trees behind our home, either by snapping the tops which were higher than our roofline or uprooting them. The buildings in the back that we use were also untouched. After it got over our property, the storm dropped back on the ground and almost completely devastated the community behind us.
On Monday morning, Mike Charles, a master electrician and new friend showed up at my door and asked if I needed any help. He helped me pick out a generator and hooked it up to our home so our food would not spoil and also for basic lighting etc in the house. Early Tuesday morning he showed up again to fix the weather head for my workshop. Without it, I would not be able to get power to the building. We worked about an hour just clearing the trees out to have space to work.
While Mike and I were working on my shop, Michelle was feeling overwhelmed. She was wondering how on earth we were going to clean up the mess on our property. We had major trees down all over our buildings to the back plus two in our back yard and we didn’t have the equipment nor the man power to do it. She prayed for help. About two hours later, eight men and two women showed up with chain saws, a tractor and a skid steer which can pick up whole trees easily. They worked tirelessly for around five hours and then there were gone. We know a couple of them, so we know they were not angels. Within an hour of them being done with the cleanup, Mike and I finished bolting on the meter box and power head to my workshop. As we were tightening the last bolt to secure it to the side of the building, T-VEC, our electric provider, showed up to connect us back to the main line. It was the most amazing day. If those guys had not shown up to help with the cleanup, T-VEC would not have been able to do their job and our power up would have been delayed.
We experienced a miracle that is beyond anything that has ever happened in our life. Our God protected us from all harm. He is faithful to deliver all who will call upon His great Name and believe that He truly is able to do what His Word says. His Name is Jesus of Nazareth, The Creator of Heaven and Earth. We continue to pray for the people on both sides of our property. By the grace of God our place does not look like the photo below, which was taken in the neighborhood behind our home. The trees you can see in the background is our property which is about 500 yards away. Several of our friends lived here and we are so thankful that no lives were lost. They will soon start the rebuilding process and life will go on.