For the first time in his life, Darrin Crockett is glad God did not answer his prayer.
On Monday night, March 2, Crockett and his family went to bed as always. Their dog Doc, however, barked incessantly throughout the night. Crockett remembers asking God “to make that dog quit barking.”
Darrin Crockett and his daughter Carly sift through what’s left of their house, looking for any items that can be recovered.
God apparently chose not to answer that prayer. As a result, the Crockett family is alive and well after an estimated EF-4 tornado blasted through their home in Cookeville, Tenn., leaving them trapped under a pile of rubble.
Reflecting on that night, Crockett sees how God orchestrated their survival. Had Doc not barked most of the night, Crockett may not have heard his phone alarm signaling a storm warning. As a result of the warning, he, his wife Jenny and daughters Carly, Camryn and Carrigan took refuge in the laundry room, the only place they probably could have survived, Crockett said.
Watch a video with Darrin Crockett:
“We heard it coming and suddenly the house began to shake,” he said. “Next thing I remember is I felt grass underneath me. The tornado must have picked up the entire house, dropped it in the yard with us buried underneath it.”
A two-by-four that fell across an overturned washer and dryer likely provided enough room to keep them from being crushed. When the storm passed, lighting flashes exposed what few openings there were, and the family crawled out from the collapsed building with only a few minor cuts and scratches.
Crockett, associate pastor of VineBranch Community Church and a school administrator and athletic director at Highland Rim Academy, both in Cookeville, acknowledged that their survival is a miracle.
“It is amazing,” he said. “If our dog had not alerted us, who knows where we would have ended up?”
As he stood near the pile of rubble that once was his house and watched volunteers salvage items and drag the ruins to nearby trash piles, Crockett knew without a doubt that God spared him and his family.
Volunteers clean debris from what remains of the home of Darrin and Jenny Crockett in Cookeville, Tenn. The couple were inside the home with their three daughters Monday night, March 2, when it was struck by a tornado and collapsed on top of them. They crawled out of the debris with only minor scratches and cuts.
“We have tremendous peace and joy,” he said.
Two things, however, cause him to get emotional — knowing how close they came to someone planning their funerals this week and the outpouring of support from the community. “It’s amazing to look around and realize we are not alone,” he said.
Crockett knows he and his family are recipients of God’s grace. “I’ve seen God’s grace in so many ways and in so many places. This affirms it even more,” he acknowledged.
The outpouring of support from Baptists and other Christians, not only in the community, but from across the state also has been “overwhelming and amazing,” he said.
Baptists have received a lot of negative press across the nation in recent months, Crockett observed. “But when it comes down to it, the church does what God calls it to do. Nothing else matters in times like these.”
The minister expressed his appreciation to Tennessee Baptists for their response, love and resources. “It’s overwhelming.”
Though they have each other, the Crocketts did experience a significant loss in the aftermath of the tornado. Their beloved dog Doc, who probably saved their lives with his barking, did not survive.
“He will go down as a hero,” Crockett said. “We will celebrate him and talk about him for a long time.”
Lonnie Wilkey is the editor of the Tennessee Baptist and Reflector.