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Disaster Relief teams across several states respond to spring storms

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams are busing responding to tornado damage, such as here in Brookville, Ind., that was extensive from Kansas to the Carolinas on May 9. Photo courtesy of Don Morris/Indiana Disaster Relief

COLUMBIA Tenn. (BP) — At least one death can be attributed to the tornado that tore through Middle Tennessee on Wednesday, part of a storm system that brought at least 13 tornadoes, softball-sized hail, flooding and wind gusts up to 72 mph from Kansas to the Carolinas.

At least five deaths have been confirmed in storms this week. Two of those are in Tennessee, with one in North Carolina, one in Kentucky and another in Barnsdall, Okla., following an EF5 tornado.

Nearly every region of the state was affected by last night’s storms, reported the Tennessee Baptist and Reflector, which included wind damage and flooding. In northeast Tennessee, one person died when a tree fell on his car in the town of Tazewell.

Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief personnel are there as well as in Russellville, where a microburst took off the roof of an elementary school, said Nolachucky Baptist Association Disaster Relief Director Don Owen. 

Kentucky experienced its share of storms, but not a significant amount of damage.

“It was an active night, but we didn’t get what we feared we would,” said state Disaster Relief Director Ron Crow. “There were little pockets of damage here and there, but to my knowledge none of it from tornadoes.”

Kentucky Disaster Relief teams have responded to reports of damage in Sullivan, Livermore and Corbin, he added. Should they not be requested to respond to the storms, personnel will prepare to go to Houston in the coming weeks and assist with cleanup from flooding there, Crow said.

Lisa Misner, contributing editor for the Illinois Baptist, reported that Disaster Relief is responding in the southern part of the state in rural Harrisburg. Chainsaw crews and a chaplain from Harrisburg First Baptist and Carrier Mills First Baptist are in the process of responding to as many as seven calls for assistance.

The job should take three to four days to complete, Misner was told by state coordinator Arnold Ramage.

In a week where several tornadoes touched down in Indiana, state Disaster Relief is helping with cleanup at a Brookville home where part of a barn structure from next door landed in the yard and a dumpster wound up hitting the second level.

“We also have two teams getting ready to respond to flooding in eastern Texas,” said state director Butch Porter.

Alabama Disaster Relief is responding to damage reports in the Henagar area atop Sand Mountain in the northeast part of the state. Staging is taking place at Happy Home Baptist Church, with other local deployments ongoing. Caution is being taken, though, amid expectations of additional rough weather Thursday evening.

Southern Baptists like those in Oklahoma continue to respond to Disaster Relief needs after a previous round of storms.  

State director Jason Yarbrough told the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger that efforts such as that of First Baptist in Bartlesville, where the church opened its Family Life Center to house more than 70 volunteers, are “a great help.”

Those services by volunteers include meal preparation, chainsaw clearing and chaplaincy, he said.