Tornado Destroys Doctor's Home Just Days After Touching Father-Son Photo Sweeps the Internet

Jared Burks and son; Burks home after tornado
Alyssa Burk/Facebook; GoFundMe

Last week, Arkansas mom Alyssa Burks shared a photo on Facebook that went unexpectedly viral for one simple reason: In one powerful image, it showed the heartbreaking toll the current situation is taking on the families of doctors, nurses, and other first responders everywhere. Just days after the family's story touched thousands across the internet, they are sadly in the headlines once more, after a recent tornado tore through Arkansas and destroyed their home.

  • Alyssa's Facebook post first went up March 25.

    In it, her husband, Jared, who's a resident physician, is separated by a glass door from their 1-year-old son, Zeke. Not wanting to put his wife or son at risk in case he carried the virus, Jared put a hand up to the glass and his son met it on the other side -- the closest they'll be able to come to touching for quite some time. 

    "Look who we finally got to see today!" Alyssa wrote in the caption. "Not going to pretend that I didn’t bawl like a baby when he left to go back to work. We miss him, but we are doing what we have to do."

    "Count your blessings," she added. "That’s what’s getting us through this!"

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  • Like so many health care workers right now, Jared is on the front lines of what is proving to be an overwhelming battle.

    "He is working right now in a rotation that has him all over the hospital, including the ER, and he just felt like it would be responsible for us to quarantine from each other," Alyssa later told KATV.

    At the time of the photo, he hadn't seen his son in two weeks, but as he peered through the glass just moments earlier, his wife said that he watched his son crawl for the very first time. 

    "As soon as he saw his dad he just raced to the door," Alyssa shared. "He got up on the glass because I think he wanted him to hold him, so it was sad. It was cute, but it was really heartbreaking because it's hard."

  • Thousands of essential workers are having similar experiences right now -- missing out on moments while trying to keep their families safe.

    In New York City, which has become the epicenter of the virus, first responders are reportedly sleeping in their cars in between shifts, for fear of bringing it back to their families. And earlier this month, the wife of an ER doctor in Georgia shared that her husband has been self-isolating in a small apartment the couple have over their garage, to ensure he doesn't infect the rest of the family if he contracts the virus.

    As Rachel Patzer tweeted in a thread that has since gone viral, the decision to separate was especially hard given the fact that the couple has two small children, including an infant.

    "It pains me to wonder how many weeks will go by that he won’t get to hold our new baby or see our older kids," she wrote. "This is one example of the sacrifice that healthcare workers are making for our communities."

  • But for the Burks, their decision to quarantine separately turned even more heartbreaking over the weekend, when a tornado ripped through the South.

    On Saturday and Sunday, severe thunderstorms and violent bursts of tornadoes attacked the Heartland, hitting states such as Kentucky, Illinois, and the Burks' home state of Arkansas. In the process, 22 people were hospitalized with injuries and dozens of homes were destroyed -- including the Burks'.

    Luckily, no one in the family was harmed. 

    "We are all safe," Alyssa updated friends and family on Facebook on Saturday. "Our house is gone."

  • Remarkably, Alyssa reported that Jared was inside when one of the tornadoes hit, but said he "survived by the grace of God."

    Burks home after it was hit by a tornado

    "Zeke and I were at my mom's house," she continued. "Please pray for us as we begin to pick up the pieces."

  • Thousands reacted to her post, after being touched by the family's story just days earlier.

    Messages of support and comfort poured in from all over the US, including Indiana, Nebraska, Minnesota, and beyond.

    "I don’t know you but I pray God keeps you and your family in his care and hands," one person wrote. "So happy you all are ok. Saw you on the news."

    "Alyssa I saw your post that went viral and on the news," another person commented. "So sorry that your family is going through a trying time as being separated and losing your home. So amazing to know your husband survived ... Keep positive until that day you have rebuilt."

    To say the prayer warriors are behind the Burks would be an understatement. More than 2,000 people reacted to the post, with more than 1,000 leaving comments. Almost all shared messages of prayers and good thoughts being sent their way.

    "I am so glad everyone is safe," one person wrote. "Use your very large platform now and ask for help! You have thousands of people invested in your story!"

    They certainly do.

    On Sunday, a family friend set up a GoFundMe page for the family, seeking donations and any support possible to help the Burks rebuild. To date, it has incredibly raised more than $100,000 -- far exceeding the original goal of $2,500. If you would like to donate, you can do so here.