HEARTLAND | Lisa Sergent
Raymond Kramer and his wife, Betty, were driving home from Rockford, Ill.,
when it started to hail. As the icy stones got larger and came down harder, they started to look for shelter. Then, to his west, Kramer saw a funnel cloud on the ground.
The funnel cloud was part of a tornado outbreak that hit northern Illinois April 9. It caused destruction in town of Rochelle and completely destroyed the small community of Fairdale, where two people died.
The Kramers, members of Grace Fellowship in Ashton, took shelter in Grubsteakers Restaurant, where “the owner herded us through the kitchen, out the door, and we made a u-turn down into a good old-fashioned storm cellar,” Kramer told the Illinois Baptist.
When the tornado had passed, they tried to open the cellar doors, but found them blocked by debris. The back dining room and pantry walls had fallen on top of the doors. And the restaurant owner’s SUV had been lifted up by the tornado and was sitting on top of the walls.
The Kramers prayed with 10 fellow survivors as they waited for first responders to arrive, which they did in 30 minutes. However, it took two hours for responders to free them. Sitting in the dark with only cellphone flash lights and, later, a light passed down by the responders, the Kramers prayed with the group.
One woman was crying, and as his wife comforted her, Kramer prayed. “I pray aloud in situations like this,” he said.
To help everyone relax, Kramer said he started singing, “’I’ll be there to pick you up in the wheel barrow honey, after about a quarter past eight….’ Then, I sang, ‘Que Sera, Sera, whatever will be will be…’”
Since the tornado, Kramer has been interviewed by local and national media who have called the 81-year-old and his wife heroes. “We’re not heroes,” he said. “We’re just servants of the Lord Jesus Christ…I had the joy of the Lord down there. I prayed to my God and I knew He would protect us.”
IBSA Disaster Relief participated in clean-up efforts after the tornado outbreak. Chainsaw teams from four associations of churches—Fox Valley, Quad Cities, Sinnissippi, and Three Rivers—worked at three homes in Rochelle.
Rex Alexander, Disaster Relief Coordinator said the callout “was a good opportunity for northern teams to work in their own backyard.”
To learn more about Disaster Relief ministry, go to www.IBSA.org/dr or call (217) 391-3142.