WYNNE, Ark. — Kevin Jumper’s basement at his home in Wynne, Arkansas, is a storage area that became a life-saving refuge as his neighbors packed in to ride out the deadly tornado that chewed through his community.
Minutes before the twister touched down, he went door-to-door recruiting more than a dozen people to seek shelter in his basement.
Neighbors describe Jumper as a hero, though he remains humble.
“My first instinct was to help an elderly neighbor I knew didn’t have a basement,” Jumper said. “Just went to each house that I could get to as quick as I could. Yelled, knocked on doors.”
In total, two dogs and 16 people, ranging in age from 3 to 81 years old, huddled together and hoped for the best as the tornado tore through the neighborhood.
“We prayed. We prayed some more and tried to keep people calm,” Jumper said.
Despite protection from the basement, Kevin said he felt the storm’s power.
“It was just a deafening roar, but the more impactful thing was the pressure that you felt. The body pressure in and out that you felt to you. That was probably the scariest part,” he said.
To give you an idea of how crucial Kevin’s work was, the home of four people was leveled while they rode out the tornado in Kevin’s basement.
Not willing to embrace the word hero, he remains humble for the help he delivered.
“No, no. Just concerned about my neighborhood,” he said.
The cleanup in Kevin’s neighborhood will take months, perhaps years. Despite his now boarded-up home still standing, his house is also at a loss. The tornado pushed the home off its foundation.
However, Kevin remains grateful and hopes others embrace his mantra.
“Just people need to remember what’s important and that’s what the Lord has brought to my remembrance, the three good ‘F” words, faith, family, and friends, and lead with that,” he said.
Kevin spent last week in Amory, Mississippi, aiding in their cleanup efforts after a deadly tornado touched down where he has relatives.