News Articles

Tornadoes in Alabama

ADVISORY: The death toll from a series of tornadoes Wednesday, April 8, in central Alabama stood at 43 at Baptist Press’ deadline April 9, with the count expected to rise as emergency officials search through the devastation. Alabama Baptists dispatched a mobile feeding unit to Concord Baptist Church in Bessemer April 9, with 75 volunteers ready to serve up to 1,000 meals daily to tornado victims at least through April 16. “Other teams of Baptists will assist with cleanup recovery,” said Reggie Quimby, director of disaster relief for the Alabama Baptist State Convention. “These people will bring in chainsaws and help remove fallen trees, clean up debris and do temporary patchwork on roofs.” Entire neighborhoods in western Jefferson County lay in ruins, The Birmingham Post-Herald reported. In addition to the death toll, early estimates were that 200 people were injured, 150 homes were destroyed, 300 sustained major damage and 400 had minor damage, the newspaper reported. So far, 41 deaths have been reported in Jefferson County; two in St. Clair county. Birmingham is located in Jefferson. The storm was the worst to hit the state since a series of tornadoes in 1932 left 271 people dead, The Post-Herald reported. At Open Door Baptist Church in western Jefferson County, 40 to 50 worshipers did not have time to get home when told of the advancing tornado, the newspaper reported. They fled to a hall on the church’s lower level. While they prayed, the tornado ripped off the church’s roof. The upper floor collapsed but all the church members escaped through a nursery window once the storm passed. Many found their cars had been blown away, the newspaper reported. In Moody, Bethel Baptist Church was destroyed minutes after its members left an Easter pageant rehearsal early because of the impending storm, The Post-Herald reported, noting that no one was reported injured. Calvary Baptist Church, Concord, is one of several emergency shelters for tornado victims, according to the newspaper.