Christmas Tree Surrounded by Presents Remains Standing in Mo. House Destroyed by Tornado

"It was an interesting sign of hope," Pastor Danny Lybarger tells PEOPLE

tornado christmas tree
Photo: Courtesy Office of the Missouri Governor

Amid the devastation from a deadly series of tornadoes that hit six states, the Defiance, Missouri community is holding on to an unexpected glimmer of hope provided by a Christmas tree.

Pastor Danny Lybarger of The Well, a United Methodist congregation that meets at the Good News Brewery, tells PEOPLE that while he and community members participated in a cleanup, they noticed a lone Christmas tree standing in what was left of a home.

"There's one house where the whole front was ripped off. You look right in and the only thing that's left standing is their Christmas tree with presents underneath," Lybarger says. "It was an interesting sign of hope."

"It was like the season was left standing," Lybarger continues.

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He says the tree remains the "most visible thing" from a nearby roadway, prompting cars to "slow down to look at it."

While the tree has provided some comfort, the town is still processing the disaster, which killed one person and injured two others in Defiance: "What happened was tragic," says Lybarger.

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The pastor has been encouraged to see people coming together to help others.

"The tragedy of it sucks," he adds, "but it's amazing to see the way that is galvanizes people. It galvanizes people that are progressive and conservative and across all sorts of religious spectrums and all sorts of life experiences."

Starting Friday night and ending early Saturday, multiple tornados swept through Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and Missouri.

In Kentucky alone, the death toll reached 74 on Monday, while 109 people were unaccounted for, Gov. Andy Beshear said.

"This is the deadliest tornado event we have ever had," Beshear, 44, told host Jake Tapper on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday. "I think it's going to be the longest and deadliest tornado event in U.S. history."

Elsewhere, six people died at an Amazon warehouse in Illinois, four died in Tennessee and two died in Arkansas, according to the New York Times.

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