Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Amazing Survival- AL Tornadoes

On Wednesday, April 27, the people of Madison, near Huntsville, Alabama, were awoken with the sound of tornado alarms. That day, they suffered not one, but four tornados.

“It was surreal,” said the pastor of Hope Church EFC in Madison, Andy Wulff (pictured below). “You would go out and talk to your neighbors between storms.” Hope Church suffered minor damage. In a congregation of about 200, only two houses suffered significant damage. The rest were missing a few shingles or a downed tree at most.

Nearby Harvest, however, was not so lucky. About noon they were hit by a F4 tornado. Melvin (left), who runs the Harvest Youth Club, said, “We have about 103 homes. Only a dozen are being lived in right now.” Harvest has been described as an urban-type community in a rural setting. The average income is $23-24,000. Ninety-nine% of the community is African American. Maybe 50% of the families have insurance.

“Most of our kids are on free or reduced lunch, if that gives you an idea of our community.” said Melvin. “80% of these houses are single-parent or non-traditional homes. Forty percent of our residents are over 60, yet we only had one fatality and 45 seriously injured.” He later clarified that the one fatality was over on a road outside of the main community.

His survival story is amazing. “We run a pre-school and weren’t able to get the kids home because the parents were locked down at work. At about noon, the tornado came. All the women were screaming and I was just praying, but it seemed very short.”

However short it seemed, the devastation was immeasurable. The ministry’s bus was originally in the parking lot. In the storm it flipped over and landed up right against the trees. Trailer frames were the only thing still intact on many trailers in the community. Trees were down all over. The town was almost completely devastated. Melvin’s house lost its garage and the back sustained some damage, almost untouched compared to some houses.

One witness said, “I was looking outside my window watching the other side of the street get hit.” When you walk through Harvest, you may see one house completely gone and the next almost untouched. Debris is everywhere.
“About 90 to 95% of our homes are devastated,” said Melvin. “The recovery is going to take a while. It’ll be interesting.”

Melvin's ministry is providing free meals all day and trying their best to supply basic needs. When asked what their immediate needs are, Melvin replied, “toiletries, tools, and diapers.”
Even with the devastation, Melvin has a hopeful outlook. “This will draw us as a community closer to God. God allows things to happen with the ultimate outcome that He gets the glory and it prepares us for the Kingdom.”

EFCA TouchGlobal Crisis response and Hope EFC have been sending teams serve this area since Saturday. Partnering with the local ministries to show the love of Christ. Join us!

(Written by Kendra Watterson, age 13, daughter of TG staffer...great job Kendra... ml)


Pastor Ian said...

Praise the Lord for Andy and all the volunteers from Hope Church and EFCA Crisis Response. What a great way to demonstrate the love of Christ to a hurting community in a tangible way.

Our prays for strength, peace, and comfort are with everyone.

Great article Kendra!

Nana Balla said...

Great writing Kendra, sounds like a mature reporter!

Marta Lewis said...

What a great report Kendra. We are proud of you! Are you sure you are 13? Keep up the good job.