The town of Franklin in Central Texas was hit by an EF-31 tornado on April 13, 2019. It suffered widespread damage, including fallen trees, downed power lines, overturned cars, destruction of buildings and mobile homes. The tornado caused at least $3 million in damage and destroyed more than 50 homes, four businesses and two churches. Nearly 4,000 residents were left in the dark across the county, though most of the power was restored within days. The cleanup and restoration of this community is expected to take several months.

Shortly after the disaster, SSIO members of the USA South Region toured the area to assess the damage and determine how they could assist with relief efforts. They delivered much needed supplies, such as food, water, toiletries and clothes. They also partnered with a local church to plan a subsequent trip. In mid-May, Young Adult (YA) volunteers from Austin and Dallas worked for five hours at a facility in Franklin to sort and bag clothes for distribution to tornado survivors. They also replenished a food pantry at a local church.

Sai volunteers were deeply heartbroken to see the devastation, and its impact on several residents struggling to get back on their feet after everything they possessed had been destroyed. The volunteers realized just how privileged they were and reflected on their own needless desires. Debrief sessions and Study circles on “Ceiling of Desires” followed, during which volunteers shared their personal experiences and how the visit served as a catalyst to bring about personal transformation in a small but significant way.  They expressed deep gratitude for the blessings in their own life, while being thankful for the opportunity to bring smiles and some relief to the survivors of the tornado.

Since the visit in May, SSIO members have been in contact with community leaders in Franklin, so they can receive updates on the needs of the community and continue to provide them critical material support. SSIO members also hope to be involved once home restoration work gets underway in Franklin.


1  An EF-3 tornado has wind speeds between 136-165 miles per hour.