ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) – Retired Kernersville Police Officer Sean Houle is using his faith and journey to uplift homeowners who are putting their lives back together after a tornado touched down in Rockingham County.
Houle was shot multiple times while trying to make an arrest in February 2021. He lost enough blood to die three times, suffered a stroke and needed reconstructive surgeries on his face and hand.
He retired from the police force on Jan. 1, 2022.
The former officer is now a chaplain for the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team.
“I’ve had this ministry to be there for me, and I feel blessed that God is giving me the opportunity to hopefully be that for somebody else,” Houle said. “The Lord has really helped me find a sense of purpose in my life after everything in things like this.”
On Tuesday, the team visited two homes and spoke with the families impacted by the twister last Friday.
According to National Weather Service forecasters, an EF-1 tornado traveled almost eight miles with 110 miles per hour winds in Wentworth. At one point, it was 300 yards wide.
“I shouldn’t have lived through my situation,” Houle said. “You can look at a tornado touching down somewhere and say there is no way somebody should’ve lived through a giant tree completely crushing their house.”
Houle shared his life-changing journey with homeowners. His recovery is still not over. He’s leaned on his faith for strength through it all.
“You don’t see people dwelling on damage or loss or things like that,” he said. “They’ve got to press on, and you just see that resolve.”
A team from Samaritan’s Purse and Billy Graham Rapid Response Team helped clear trees, pile up brush and talk to homeowners.
Houle said repairs can be made and homes can be fixed, but lives can’t be replaced.
He credits God for keeping everyone safe through the storm.
“God is allowing us to hopefully be the tip of that iceberg for that need to carry on and rebuild and get back to normal, which I’m still trying to do myself,” Houle said. “At the center of the storm is Christ, and he’s always going to be there no matter, whether it’s a literal storm like a tornado…or a mental, emotional, spiritual storm.”
Altogether, 21 homes were damaged in the storm, according to Rockingham County Emergency Services. Three of the homes were destroyed. Staff with the American Red Cross are helping those families.
Crews with Samaritan’s Purse plan to help families throughout the week.
People who would like to volunteer should stop by the temporary office to sign up at Fairview Baptist Church on Flat Rock Road in Reidsville.