Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief teams are hard at work again after an EF-3 tornado plowed for more than nine miles through Fultondale just north of Birmingham late Jan. 25. This comes just a few months shy of the 10th anniversary of the April 27, 2011 tornados that killed 238 people and left nearly 2,000 injured across central Alabama.
One person died and 20 were injured in the recent tornado, which plowed a path of damage a quarter mile wide. Chainsaw teams were able to access the area Jan. 27 to begin helping homeowners with cleanup.
“There are places where things are wiped flat,” Mark Wakefield, Alabama’s lead strategist for Disaster Relief, said of the damage.
John Hayes, an 18-year Disaster Relief veteran and area coordinator, said teams were using Walkers Chapel Baptist Church, Fultondale, as a command base, with associational teams from around the state coming in to help.
“The problem is that in the area that was hit, about half of the houses are gone, just piles of rubble,” Hayes said.
There isn’t much they can do to help with cleanup there at this time, he said, but in other areas where homeowners don’t have insurance to cover tree removal and cleanup, they were able to get in there and get to work.
“Maybe in the future if it gets organized we can help rebuild, but at this time we will probably be limited to chainsaw and cleanup,” said Hayes, noting that chaplains were also on the scene helping people deal with trauma.
First Baptist Church, Fultondale, which was badly damaged in the 2011 tornados, is also getting to serve as a light to its community this time, collecting gift cards, cash and other supplies for neighbors in need.
Pastor Mark Gainey told Baptist Press that he believes God will use the latest storm for His glory, just as he believes God did in 2011. He said the church was able to rebuild physically after that storm and said God rebuilt the church spiritually and numerically too.
As First, Fultondale, and others are the “arms and feet and love of Jesus” to their community, Gainey said he’s “convinced He’ll use this for His glory too.”
HOW TO HELP
Disaster relief funds also help with buying, renting, maintaining and fueling heavy equipment like skid steers, purchasing tarps for damaged roofs or helping churches make repairs after a storm. Funds also help Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief crews prepare to respond in other states when there’s a need.
None of the funds donated to Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief go to overhead or administrative costs — all go directly to help people in disaster zones. Click here to donate to Disaster Relief.
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