Weather Center

Christmas With a Twister

By Jennifer Chappell Smith 4.20.17

After the incomprehensible roar had stopped, Kari Meek felt something poking against her back. She moved it, and by the light of her daughter’s cell phone, she saw it was a framed wedding photo — the one she kept on her bedroom nightstand. Why was it here, in the laundry room, where the five Meek family members had taken shelter?

“That’s when I knew,” Kari says of the moment she realized their house had crumbled around them. The picture frame, blown from the back of the house to the front, meant walls down — life changed. And yet Kari felt calm.

“God just gave us complete peace, and it was like he was holding us under his wing,” Kari says.

After the family emerged from what little was left of their Ellis County home, west of Waxahachie, they surveyed the destruction. “We basically had to be pulled out of a hole because our house had formed a mountain of rubble,” Kari says. “I’ll never forget that scene. The whole neighborhood was gone.”

Out of season and out of nowhere

The day after Christmas, with all the holiday festivities done, it was time to relax. Just before dinnertime, Kari’s husband, Jason, and their 16-year-old son, Hunter, set up a brand-new basketball goal and shot some hoops. With the wind picking up, they decided to lay it down and secure it before they went inside, but the family was unaware of any approaching severe weather that evening.

Kari, Jason, and their oldest daughter, Hannah, 20, started making homemade pizzas, while Hunter and his sister Shelby, 18, watched TV. “We were just cooking, listening to music, hanging out,” Kari says. Then the lights went out, and Jason retrieved some lanterns, while Kari kept cooking by a flashlight’s glow.

That’s when the family, all gathered in the kitchen, heard an eerie, furious, sound approaching.

“We all just looked at each other, and said, ‘What is that noise?’” Kari remembers. “Go!” said Jason, and they ran to the laundry room — their designated safe room. The kids and Kari dove under the table used to fold laundry, and just as Jason closed the door and knelt beside them, the tornado hit their house.

In the decimation, the hot water heater fell from the attic onto Jason’s back, but his injuries weren’t too severe. “I’ve never been more glad that I married a big, strong man,” Kari says. After a neighbor brought him some boots to put on his bare feet, Jason was able to climb out of the home’s remains with the family.

Rebuilding after the storm

The Meeks had debris cleared away in about five days, with help from friends and even from a stranger who volunteered equipment to consolidate rubble for easier removal. “I almost felt guilty at times when our neighbors were still dealing with [the mess], and within a week we were done,” Kari says. Rebuilding went smoothly, too, especially since the Meek home’s slab remained structurally sound and didn’t require work. “We used the same builder and the same design, so it was really easy for us to get it done quickly,” Kari says. After living with family during the rebuild, the Meeks moved back home in early May, just about four months after the storm.

Emotionally, the sudden blast of the Christmastime tornado that came with no warning left its mark, as the family had some uneasy nights during the inevitable bouts of severe weather that came that spring. But the Meeks say the whole experience increased their appreciation for Texas Farm Bureau Insurance and strengthened their faith. “It’s been a journey,” Kari says. “It’s really helped us … to trust [God] more.”

No matter what kind of severe weather threatens the Lone Star State, Texas Farm Bureau Insurance policyholders can rest easy knowing the things that matter most are covered by the Texas-tough protection of Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Companies.

Don’t let an unexpected storm catch you off guard — schedule a 360 Review with your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent to ensure your policies are right-sized for your current needs. 

Unpredictable storms, a reliable neighbor

Many associate tornadoes with springtime storms, yet on Dec. 26, 2015, a spate of tornadoes in North Texas killed 11 people and destroyed homes in four counties, reminding everyone that severe weather in Texas happens any time of year. The Meeks discovered that Texas Farm Bureau Insurance takes care of its members anytime, as well.

In addition to the couple’s sense of providential physical protection that night, Jason Meek calls the response by Texas Farm Bureau Insurance the most unbelievable thing of all. “The storm came through at 6:04 p.m., and at 3 a.m. my adjuster called me and … goes, ‘Jason, I just found out what happened to your house. The paperwork’s done, and I’ll see you tomorrow.’”

Dan’l Cupp, a Waxahachie-based adjuster, had heard about the Meek’s damage through word of mouth and started the claims process for them. He and their Agent, Joey Edwards, came to see the damage the next morning. “When the chips were down, Texas Farm Bureau Insurance didn’t play. They came in and [got the job done],” Jason says.

Dallas Agency Manager Dennis W. Smith describes how the storm resulted in many total losses across the area. “It was something so terrible it was simply hard to believe,” Smith says. Texas Farm Bureau Insurance policyholders he visited in the aftermath told him that neighbors with other insurance companies had not yet talked to an adjuster, while Texas Farm Bureau Insurance was already on-site and paying claims. “We take care of our members at the time that it’s most important, when they need us,” Smith says.

For more tales of triumph, read the inspiring story of another Texas family who found hope in unexpected tragedy.

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation. © 2017 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance