Beth Catania: Mercy in the Twister
By Rich Santoro
The 700 Club
Beth's own words
As a killer tornado raced toward her home, Beth Catania of Suffolk, Virginia was baking bread.
"I didn't have the television on. I was doing my household things so I had no clue."
Her husband, John, was at work when he heard about the tornado. He says he thought he'd give Beth a call to see if she was aware of the tornado warnings.
“Warning? Not watch?”
He said, “Yes.”
“Oh, I think I need to take this one seriously." So I said, “Ok, I’m going to go upstairs and just get a couple pillows and a quilt and put it by the closet just in case I need it."
Beth went outside to take in a grill and patio furniture.
"It was just incredibly quiet. There were no birds and the sky was a funny green and yellow color. John and I grew up in the midwest and I knew that was how the sky looked when tornados were in the area. When I closed the door to the deck I thought, 'I wonder if I'll ever open this door again.'"
"Then I heard thunder in the distance. I realized it wasn't rumbling. It was that train sound that people describe when they talk about tornados."
By that time, John and I are on the phone.
"I think it's time I got in the closet," I told him.
"I could hear her go into the closet and close the door," John said. "And she said, 'I can hear it coming,' and I could hear it over the phone and it really did sound like a train.”
We’re praying, “Thank you Jesus for protecting me and thank you for the blood of Jesus that covers us.”
"And then I realized windows were breaking. It was a louder crashing, and then, right before the house exploded, there was this WUMP sound. It was the differential in the air pressure because the tornado was sucking up the air so that I could feel the closet expanding, and then it exploded."
"Literally, the house was starting at that moment to break, and then all I could hear was a screech as the phone went dead."
"I found myself rolling – not being tossed about but rolling… Every time I rolled I said, 'I’m alive, thank you Jesus'. I realized that there was stuff flying all around me and I was in this place, sanctuaried with the Lord."
The entire structure was torn off its foundation and hurled into the sky.
Miracously, Beth was left behind.
"The sound of the wind stopped. Then I opened my eyes and I realized the house was in shambles. There were broken pieces of house all around me. And I looked up and saw destruction and I raised my hands and said, 'God, you are so awesome! You are so awesome! Because I am alive in the midst of the chaos and destruction.'"
Beth suffered only scratches and bruises and a small gash to the head. Neighbors ran to her rescue. Emergency workers were soon on the scene.
Meantime, John was in a traffic jam as people rushed home to check on loved ones. Thirty minutes had passed since he lost contact with Beth.
John said his real frustration was, “We’ve got to get together. I don’t want to go through this night without her.”
Finally, he got a call from Beth. She was okay.
A few days after the tornado, John and Beth visited what was left of their home.
"It looked like a giant had swept the foundation clean. But on the very corner of the foundation, lying open, was the Bible that my grandmother had given me when I was twelve, and it was opened to Psalm 75."
"In Psalm 75 [it says],'God will uphold the righteous.'"
"My righteousness isn’t my own. It’s the righteousness Jesus bought for me. And that God will uphold us in the face of tornadoes or any kind of wickedness. In fact, He wants us to prevail, not just to be able to survive."
“I know that I know that I trust God," John said. "She’s alive today. I have a whole new understanding of being tucked under His wing because that’s where she was. For that house to come apart the way it did and for her to stand up and brush off debris and walk away was the hand of God.”
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