Covenant Couple Killed When Storm Destroys Home

Post a Comment » Written on February 2nd, 2007     
Filed under: News
DELAND, FL (February 2, 2007) – Two members of Covenant Community Church were killed overnight when storms that ripped across east central Florida demolished their home, says Kurt Miericke, superintendent of the Southeast Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

Michael and Melinda Sluss were killed in their home and their 17-year-old son, Michael, is undergoing surgery, Miericke reports.

The Slusses have been active members of the congregation, where Michael came to faith in Christ. Melinda led a women’s ministry in the congregation, Miericke says.

The congregation does not have a building and meets at a local Assembly of God church. It was unknown this morning whether that building was damaged.

Media outlets are reporting heavy damage, and many buildings reduced to rubble. News reports confirm 14 deaths so far.

DeLand is located roughly 20 miles southeast of Daytona Beach in Volusia County, which was one of three communities in the path of the storm. Sumter and Lake Counties also report damage.

The National Weather Service says the storm struck around 3 a.m., and tornadoes probably caused much of the damage, but experts were surveying the scene to complete a more detailed assessment.

The home of retired Covenant pastor Jim Swanson in New Smyrna Beach, about 15 miles south of Daytona Beach, sustained serious damage when a tornado struck around 4:30 a.m., Miericke says, adding the house is “livable, but the roof will need to be replaced.” His son, Nils Swanson, shares the house and his car was destroyed. Nils is director for Covenant Enabling Residences of Florida. “Cars have been thrown all over the place,” Miericke says.

According to CNN, area residents did not know the storm was coming and never heard warning sirens. The National Weather Service had issued a warning about the danger, but the storms hit rapidly in the middle of the night.

“We have complete devastation of homes, businesses, religious institutions,” Christopher Patton of the Lake County Emergency Operations Center, tells CNN. “It was unlike perhaps even the hurricanes of 2004.

Search and rescue operations were continuing amid the devastation, officials said.

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