Prayer closet survives Lee Co. tornadoes; family rejoices

Updated: Sep. 3, 2019 at 9:26 PM EDT
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BEAUREGARD, Ala. (WTVM) - A prayer closet was the only thing left standing for one family’s home after the deadly March 3 tornadoes in Beauregard.

The Wilson and Reese families lived next door to each other on Lee Road 39. Though their homes were destroyed in the tornadoes, they said there’s a powerful message behind their story: be brave and face your own personal storm.

Most homes on Lee Road 39 were ripped apart by the tornadoes that killed 23 people.

Kolayah Wilson and his family’s home was no different. They crawled out of the debris, searching for their loved ones.

“[I felt] disbelief that something like this could even happen,” he said.

Despite the heartbreaking damage to Wilson’s and his mother-in-law’s homes, his mother-in-law, Ernestine Reese, was rejoicing.

Video of her just moments after the tornadoes shows her yelling, “Do you hear me, boy? Tell God, ‘Thank you. Thank you, God.'”

Though the home was destroyed and remnants strewn across the property, one thing remained standing, Reese’s beloved prayer closet. It’s now a powerful and moving symbol for the family.

“To see utter destruction all around you and that thing still being there was a testament,” Wilson said.

The prayer closet is no longer standing. It was torn down to make room for Reese’s new home.

Wilson said there will be a new prayer closet in the home though.

“I’m not sure what it will look like, but it will be a breath of fresh air just to have a home and a prayer closet to come back to,” he said.

Reese is currently recovering from being in the hospital and couldn’t meet, but that prayer closet gives her and the family hope.

“Tell God thank you,” she said again in the video from March 3.

Wilson said there’s a message.

“Prayer works,” he said. “Have a prayerful life. Have faith.”

He wants everyone to have faith through any storm.

“Literally and metaphorically, go through the storm," he said. "No matter what’s going on in life, the storms in life you do face, you can face them down even if you’re fearful of it.”

Both Wilson and Reese’s homes are expected to be completed some time in October.

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