Disaster relief teams clean up storm damage in north Alabama

Disaster relief teams clean up storm damage in north Alabama

For the first two Wednesdays of February, Eddy Garner’s area had tornado warnings. With the first one, nothing really happened. But the second Wednesday — Feb. 12 — the weather made good on its threats and an EF-1 tornado carved a several-mile-long path about 400 yards wide through the Green Hill area north of Florence.

“We had our disaster relief team out Friday (Feb. 14) helping some families up there who had trees down in their yard,” said Garner, associational missions director for Colbert-Lauderdale Baptist Association.

Limestone Baptist Association’s disaster relief team also deployed to help with cleanup from heavy winds that hit the Athens area the same night. The area had “trees down from all the rain, then 45-mile-per-hour winds,” said Larry Ward, disaster relief coordinator for Limestone Association.

“The past two months we’ve had above average rainfall, then following all the rain, we’ve had these terrible wind gusts that come through the area, sometimes with small tornadoes,” Ward said.

Working in the community

Limestone Association had crews out working Feb. 14–15 and again today (Feb. 17) helping clear out fallen trees and talking to people in the community.

“We want to get to meet the homeowners and share the gospel if we can, and this gives us an opportunity to be out in the community doing that,” Ward said, noting they still had old debris to help clean up caused by heavy rains and storms over the past two months.

Garner said for Colbert-Lauderdale Association’s team, it’s been an active winter too.

“In December, tornadoes hit Colbert Heights, starting at First Baptist Church,” he said. “We had a chainsaw crew up there the week before Christmas.”

Meteorologist James Spann said the amount of rain that area has received is the “big anomaly.” Muscle Shoals has received 23.19 inches of rain since Dec. 1 — 10.10 inches above average for the time period.

Mark Wakefield, disaster relief and chaplaincy ministries strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, said it’s been a “pretty busy, active winter” all over the state. Some storms have been fatal — two people were killed in Town Creek in December, three in Pickens County in January and another near Demopolis in early February.

“I don’t remember this many fatalities in winter in the past,” Wakefield said. “This winter has seen tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding. It’s been an unusually active weather pattern.”