SALADO, Texas (KXAN) — After Tuesday’s tornado in Salado spared Reagan Keith’s Hidden Springs home, the 17-year-old and his neighbor sifted through what landed in their neighborhood.

“She picked up this piece of an old hymnal,” Keith told KXAN. The lyrics on the piece of paper read, “I am bound for the promised land.”

“They were very fitting to what just happened, that our days are numbered and that we’re not going to be here forever,” Keith said. “We have to live each day as best we can.”

Hymnal shred found in Hidden Springs neighborhood after Tuesday's tornado (Photo: Reagan Keith)
Hymnal shred found in Hidden Springs neighborhood after Tuesday’s tornado (Photo: Reagan Keith)

“I don’t think this was a coincidence,” he added. “I think it had to be God. There’s no other way.”

The teen said he believed the scrap came from nearby Cedar Valley Baptist Church, which the tornado did not spare.

Churchgoer Clayton Capps typically spends every fourth Friday of the month at the church singing. While surveying the damage Wednesday, he said he was thankful no one was killed.

“This right here,” Capp said, pointing to his arm, “This is what means everything, the flesh and blood, not the building.”

  • Front facade of devastated First Cedar Valley Baptist Church (KXAN Photo/Daniel Marin)
  • The First Cedar Valley Baptist Church off FM 2843 in Salado, Texas sustained tornado damage the afternoon of April 12, 2022 (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)
  • The First Cedar Valley Baptist Church off FM 2843 in Salado, Texas sustained tornado damage the afternoon of April 12, 2022 (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)
  • Damage at First Cedar Valley Baptist Church

Donnie Jackson, the pastor at Cedar Valley Baptist, said even after seeing the destruction of his church, he would like to hold Easter service in front of the collapsed building on Sunday.

“I have no idea what God’s purpose is in allowing this to happen, but I know He has one,” Jackson said. “I know that despite the devastation that we saw, the big cross that we see as we enter the building, it’s still there.”

Plenty of helping hands

The church was one of at least 63 buildings damaged in some way, according to Bell County officials.

“I’m trying not to cry. It was really a heartbreaker,” said Linda Jackson, Pastor Donnie’s wife.

But none of their congregants were badly hurt, nor their homes destroyed.

“No lives were taken. Material things can be replaced,” she said.

She said about 100 people were in and out helping them pick up the pieces all day including 11-year-old Asa Goodin.

“It’s my church. I got to help,” he said.

He’s been up since 8 a.m. Wednesday helping neighbors.

“At my house, there’s minimal damage — not that bad. But our neighbors, like, houses are gone,” he said.

The damage was so shocking it scared Goodin’s dad when he came home Tuesday.

“He was crying, because he thought we were dead, because he saw how much damage there was,” Goodin said.

Others in faith have offered food, clothing and shelter, Linda said.

“Every church in the community has called us,” she said.

Congregants who are also builders are already on standby to start construction, once they get the green light from insurance agents.

“We’re just thankful that God has blessed us this far and brought many people in to help,” Linda said.