Chris Fuller of Russellville Baptist Church and Nancy Hubbard of Fayetteville First Baptist Church pray with Newnan residents in the wake of the March 26 tornado. COURTESY/Gerald Harris
NEWNAN – A fierce and destructive EF-4 tornado with winds in excess of 170 mph swept through Newnan just after midnight on March 26 and left in its wake fallen trees, downed power lines and obliterated homes. At least one news source indicated that more than 1,700 homes were damaged with nearly 200 destroyed or greatly damaged.
Tornados can damage the water, gas and electrical systems in one’s home. The swirling winds of a tornado can uproot trees, hurl vehicles hundreds of yards, destroy buildings and do physical harm to those victimized by the deadly twisters.
Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief Teams are trained and committed to respond to a variety of needs caused by floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados and almost any kind of humanitarian emergency.
Ricky Thrasher, who is a part of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board staff, reported that as of April 6 there have been 52 volunteers from Baptist churches across Georgia who have invested 161 days helping with the disaster relief efforts in Newnan.
Heatherwood Baptist Church in the Coweta County seat city has provided the central location and the needed space from which the Disaster Relief Units have conducted their operations. Heatherwood’s stated mission goal is “to strive to be people who love God and love others, and who make a difference in our community and the world.” The church has been an excellent hub and launching pad for the DR volunteers.
The volunteers include an Incident Management Team (IMT), a group of especially trained individuals who are equipped to manage the logistical, planning, operational and safety issues necessary to manage the infrastructure required to address any emergency.
The volunteers also include clean-up and recovery units that have been assessing the damage, cutting and trimming trees and covering multiple roofs with tarpaulin to prevent further water damage. Some of the responders have formed a feeding unit to provide meals to those who have served as disaster relief volunteers. Two shower units have also been provided by the Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief ministry for the convenience of the volunteers.
The individuals who are expending their physical energy to help restore order to the devastated homes and communities are not just engaged in a social gospel experiment, but the physical repairs and restorations are being complimented by chaplains and evangelistic teams going door to door to communicate concern and share the gospel with those who have been victimized by the storm.
When asked about the extent of the damage and the length of days that will be required to re-establish livable conditions in the most severely damaged homes, Thrasher replied, “There has been tremendous damage and it will take at least a couple of years to complete the rebuilding of some of the homes.”
Georgia Baptists and GBC churches that want to assist with the victims of this natural calamity are urged to pray for God to intervene in the lives of those who were adversely impacted by the tornado. The provision of gift cards to those who have had their lives turned upside down by the destructive twister should be given to the Western Baptist Association, 18 Jefferson Place, Newnan, GA 30263 and designated for Tornado Relief.