Dr. Jared Burks has been living apart from his wife Alyssa and their son Zeke in northeast Arkansas while he treats patients with COVID-19 at a local hospital. A touching photograph of him saying goodbye to his son through their glass storm door went viral on Friday on Facebook. The next day, a tornado struck and destroyed the home, leaving very little of the house left standing.
“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,” his wife, Alyssa Burks, said. Alyssa shared the photograph on her Facebook page and it went viral, appearing on television networks such as KATV Channel 7. “I’ve had a lot of people that have commented and said thank you for the sacrifice your husband is making and all of the other medical staff that are working alongside him,” Alyssa said, “but also the families they have that are at home, and some of us are not living in the same house right now.”
The photograph that went viral shows their son Zeke crawling up to the door to say bye to his father. Because Dr. Burks has been away from his family for more than 2 weeks due to precautions of treating COVID-19 pandemic patients, the moment the photograph was snapped was the first time he saw his son crawl.
“As soon as he saw his dad he just raced to the door,” Alyssa said. “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.”
Sadly, the heartbreak was made worse by severe storms that moved in on Saturday. As severe thunderstorms pushed through Arkansas, a tornado dropped from one cell and destroyed their home. Alyssa Burks wrote on Facebook: “We are all safe. Our house is gone. Jared was inside, but he survived by the grace of God. Zeke and I were at my mom’s house. Please pray for us as we begin to pick up the pieces. ”
A family friend, Evan Clower, established a GoFundMe page to help the family. “They are going to need help picking up the pieces so that they can find another place to live, collect their items, rebuild, all while Jared is working and fighting for those who health may be compromised,” wrote Clower on GoFundMe. Clower had hoped to raise $2,500 so the family could get back on their feet quickly; as of press time, the fund raised more than $15,000. A link to the GoFundMe page can be found here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/1yo5w210mo.
The tornado in northeastern Arkansas injured at least six people that were taken to a local hospital with minor injuries, local officials said. The tornado also did major damage to the Mall at Turtle Creek and Jonesboro Municipal Airport; however, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, both were nearly completely empty at the time the tornado struck. If it wasn’t for the pandemic, both locations would have been full.