Saint Luke Lutheran Church continues to help families hit hardest by tornado

Updated: Apr. 14, 2021 at 10:49 PM EDT
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OCEAN ISLE BEACH, N.C. (WECT) - It was a night Nellie Johnson will never forget. Her home destroyed as a deadly tornado tore through Brunswick County.

“All of a sudden we just heard a big roar and it just started coming through the house and I grab the kids and I told them to go to the bathroom and I was over the top of my kids praying to God,” said Johnson.

She and her kids were recovering from COVID-19 when the disaster struck.

Johnson and her two teenage children survived, but they were left homeless after the damage to their home was too much for them to stay.

That’s when they found Saint Luke Lutheran Church. Joan Eccard was coordinating the relief efforts and realized the Johnsons were left completely homeless after the storm.

Eccard helped to find the Johnsons a temporary home in Ocean Isle Beach and wants to help them find a permanent home. Eccard has started a fundraising effort for the Johnsons and has been accepting donations from members of the community, no matter how big or small.

“I think the community is wonderful,” said Eccard. “They are very supportive and very compassionate of people in need, even people who don’t have a lot are donating.”

Eccard had formed a relationship with the Johnson family in the months following the tornado, a bond that both are grateful for.

“[Johnson] is definitely very devoted to her family, to doing what’s best for them, and she’s a very hard worker; that was immediately apparent to us,” said Eccard.

For Johnson and her children, they have endured the challenges so far and look forward to a new beginning. A year from now, Johnson says she hopes to have a sense of calm.

“I see myself sitting in my brand new trailer that Ms. Joan is trying to get me and I see me happy and I see me with my boys and I see them in the spot where I grew up at,” said Johnson.

Fighting though the tears, Johnson tries to stay positive, grateful for the help she has received thus far.

“The tornado is horrible; it scared us,” Johnson added. “But we’re okay, we’re going to get through it.”

She is thankful as the community comes together to help those hit the hardest by the devastating storm.

Visit the church’s website here for more information or call (910) 579-0107 to find out how you can help.

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