"I can't tear it down": Rebuilding on Edwards Street

"I can't tear it down": Rebuilding on Edwards Street
House on Edwards Street in 2017 tornado. Photo Source: Ryan Moore (WDAM News Reporter)
Photo Source: Ryan Moore (WDAM News Reporter)
Photo Source: Ryan Moore (WDAM News Reporter)

PINE BELT (WDAM) - When the January 21, 2017 tornado swept through the Pine Belt, it set its sights on Edwards Street, which was one of the hardest hit areas.

One of the homes the tornado destroyed belonged to Sandra and Nathaniel Baker. A year later, the home looks brand-new, even with a little more work to be done.

"Oh my… you could literally see through the walls, the ceiling, the everything, the floors were bulking, everything, it was a mess," said Sandra Baker. "The ceiling was gone, all the everything, all the furniture, everything that was in here was damaged and destroyed."

The Bakers were to the point of giving up on hopes of rebuilding.

"We had actually signed some paper work for an agency to come and tear the house down because of the way that it looked after the storm," said Baker.

The house the Bakers live in once belonged to Sandra's mother, and it's been in the family as long as she can remember.

"But my spirit just wouldn't, I mean…. wouldn't…three times they actually came, and I actually signed the paper, but that last time, when the agency came to remove the debris, I stood right there in that doorway, and I said you know what… nope… I can't do it… I can't do it, I can't tear it down," said Baker.

She said at the time her and her husband didn't have the funds to do any of the repairs.

"I said but you know, God is, we just going to wait, and then R3SM stepped in, and they are awesome, that's all I can say… no other words can explain how awesome they have been to us," said Baker. "Catholic charities, all the different volunteers that have come, we have had several volunteers that have come in and helped us."

During the repair process, volunteers discovered a Bible verse that was on the wall above the fireplace.

"It was a plaque, a lot of stuff was blown around, but that plaque stood over that fireplace… and it read… Joshua as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord," said Baker.

That Bible verse is now painted on the front steps of the home, greeting everyone as they walk in.

"It means that God has always had us, as long as we keep him in our hearts and in our minds, this is home," said Baker.

She said God is the reason they're alive and here today.

"The God of Israel was with us from then until now, and he's still blessing, still showing us every day that he's in control, and we just have to learn to be patient, be quiet and sit still," said Baker.

During the storm Sandra and her brother-in-law took shelter inside a small closet in the center of the house, and she says that closet and God being with her saved their lives.

The closet is still in the same place, and she said she wasn't having it removed or changed. So, inside the home, it's still just as it was the morning of the tornado.

"The windows were gone, you could see clear across to the neighbors," said Baker. "The floors were messed up, everything, all the furniture that we had in here, and pretty much everything got destroyed."

But in that closet, she said they were safe and have counted their blessings. Which come in the form of their renovated home, and their lives.

"Oh my gosh, I can't express, I just can't I mean… its better than what we had… really…yeah… its full of love, more love I should say, and it's just awesome to be here," said Baker. "Regardless of the little bitty things that have to be done, we're home."