Monday, February 20, 2017

February, 20, 2017

Tragedy & Triumph- How a freak disaster changed the course of a family forever

Nicole Olsen

For many, the tornado that struck Appomattox on February 24th 2016 is still an unbelievable event. They know it happened of course, one can’t look at the Appomattox Football Team’s “Power of One” slogan without being reminded, but it isn’t tangible somehow. A tornado in a small Virginia town in February just doesn’t happen. To most, it’s an event in the past that changed the course of history through a football team. The team that barreled through tragedy straight for the title of Back to Back Champions changed Appomattox, sure.  But to one family, it is so much more real.

Today, if you ask any of the students at Appomattox High School, they present that day to you as a day of sheer terror. A day when no one knew what was going on, how their families were, or if the school cafeteria was going to protect them from the devastation outside their window. One student wasn’t so lucky.

Daniel Poole, 16, home sick that Wednesday afternoon, never imagined that he would be thanking the man painting his house that day, for saving his life. No one would. But emerging from the rubble of a home destroyed, that’s exactly what he did.

"I wouldn't have been downstairs if Chris wasn't here," Poole said. "I would have been upstairs and I would have been under that."

Now, a year later, after the football team once again claimed the State Championship Title, Daniel and his family are still feeling the effects of that day. You can never really imagine all that happened that day. Until you have actually been in a life or death situation, it just isn’t something you think about. You don’t wonder what might have happened if that door didn’t hold. To this family, this is an every day reality.

“I was to the point (of) asking God, ‘What do you want me to do? Do you want me to stay or leave?’” Amy Covington said a few weeks later,as she stared at the pile of debris on her property that once was her home.

After all the love and support she received from her town and church family, Amy decided to rebuild.   
“I haven’t always loved Appomattox, I liked Appomattox but I didn’t love Appomattox. Now I love Appomattox because I see how tight-knit the community is,” said Covington, an Appomattox native.

Today, the family is living in their newly rebuilt house on the same property as the house destroyed. They thank God daily for the blessing that this photo represents. A tangible reminder that things could have been so much different. This photo and their hearts could have been so much emptier. And that just might be the most important thing to remember about February 24th.


  1. What a beautifully written post, Nicki!! You are so right, it did change their lives and so many others that truly experiences loss that day. God had a plan. Amid the tragedy, God gave Amy, Daniel, and Sarah a real blessing. The blessing of knowing God is in control and our life is in His Hands. A feeling that life is worth living and that God can use others to bless our lives. You don't quite look at each day as a guarantee anymore but a true blessing. We are so thankful that God spared Daniel and that God did provide that painter to help him through the tornado!!

  2. I too live in Appomattox. That was quite a day! I work about 3 miles west of Evergreen--inside the landfill. Your blog is beautiful. I want to do the same. God Bless you and your family!


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