BIRMINGHAM (TAB) — Disaster Relief (DR) teams from several associations converged on Pickens County on Feb. 3 not 24 hours after a large tornado tore through Aliceville, leaving massive devastation in its wake.
Six Alabama Baptist DR teams from Pickens, Tuscaloosa, Walker, Bethel, Selma and Lamar Baptist associations assisted with chaplaincy and chainsaw efforts. The volunteers put in approximately 380 hours of combined work Feb. 4, clearing debris from roads and properties in Aliceville, Carrollton and Reform. A laundry unit also was deployed to the Aliceville area.
JoAnne Hendon, administrator for deployment and wife of the white hat for the clean-up efforts, David, said 40 people were working on tree removal Feb. 5.
“Right now we’re just trying to get all the areas assessed,” JoAnne Hendon said from the Pickens Association office, where DR efforts are based.
David Hendon said Feb. 5, “We still have somewhere around 13 jobs that we know of left to do and hopefully we’ll get that knocked out this weekend (Feb. 5–7).”
He expects other jobs to come to their attention, but notes that the major destruction is confined to the Sapp community northwest of Aliceville.
A tornado shelter in the community that was constructed to hold about 50 people sheltered about 200 residents as the tornado raked through the area.
“A lot of houses [in the Sapp community] are totally destroyed, but we only heard of two injuries,” Hendon said. “That’s a God thing there.”
Chainsaw crews also removed a tree that fell on Salem Missionary Baptist Church, Carrollton, and placed a tarp over the roof Feb. 4.
Mel Johnson, DR strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, said, “There was a lot of destruction and a lot of homes destroyed … (but) the response of the volunteers has been overwhelming.”
More associations are anticipated to send DR crews and, as of Feb. 5, First Baptist Church, Pickensville, was prepared to host those teams, according to Hendon.
DR teams worked alongside the Salvation Army, Red Cross and Methodist-affiliated relief workers in the days after the tornado hit.
Pickens Association Director of Missions Gary Farley said, “Those who lost homes and property in the storm have a difficult road before them. Pray that they will make it, that we help as we can and that God will be praised.”