A New Pastor’s Close and Personal Encounter with the Jefferson City Tornado

Rev. Samuel Powell of Trinity Lutheran Church, knew there could be tornadoes the evening of Wednesday, May 22, 2019. Although it was the eighth anniversary of a devastating tornado in Joplin, most people in the community were more concerned about flooding. As a chaplain for the fire department, he had dedicated a new fire station earlier that afternoon.

That night, when he and his family went to bed, they knew they might need to move to the basement if the tornado sirens went off. Sure, enough, late that night, they heard the sirens and they went to the basement to monitor the weather on the iPad.

Looking at the radar, it became clear that they were not in the direct path of the storm. However, Jesse Schlie, their newly called pastor from Fort Wayne Seminary was staying a hotel with his wife and newborn on a pre-installation visit to the congregation. And that was in the path of the storm. So, he sent a text message, to see how it was going.

Sure enough, the hotel had been hit. Thankfully, Schlie and his family were uninjured. As a chaplain, Rev. Powell had access to the emergency channels and knew the hotel had sustained significant damage. And though it took three times longer to get there due to unpassable roads, Rev. Powell got to the hotel and took the new pastor and his family to his house for the night. He wanted to get back off the roads as soon as possible, to make room for emergency responders.

At the hotel, there was a semi-truck that had been thrown from the highway into the parking lot, narrowly missing hitting the structure. The Schlie family has safely returned to Indiana, while the Jefferson City community focuses on rebuilding.

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