Childcare units being deployed to assist families in tornado-ravaged communities


PEMBROKE, Ga. — With parents busy making home repairs after an outbreak of tornadoes last week, Georgia Baptists Disaster Relief is deploying a childcare unit to the hard-hit town of Pembroke.

“We’ve already got volunteers out with chainsaws removing fallen trees,” said Disaster Relief worker Bob Sprinkel. “Others are tarping roofs. But it became clear that we also needed to provide childcare for affected families.”

Best known for providing muscle to help storm victims with cleanup, Disaster Relief also has a long history of providing volunteers devoted to childcare ministry, which is especially important when parents are busy doing all they can to make their damaged homes livable.

In the Pembroke area, survivors have their hands full  with cleanup and repairs after the deadly tornado outbreak, which was blamed for three deaths across the South.

In Ellabell, about 30 miles west of Savannah, a woman was found dead Tuesday in the mangled wreckage of her mobile home, killed by one of several tornadoes that hopscotched across Georgia.

Bryan County Coroner Bill Cox said the mobile home was ripped to pieces. “It’s like it exploded,” he said.

Sprinkel said devastation is widespread as are daunting stories of survival. He pointed to a mobile home that was rolled by one of the tornadoes.

“This huge oak tree stopped it cold in its tracks,” he said. “No injuries.”

Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief Director Dwain Carter said chaplains have been dispatched to minister to survivors.

“There are some neighborhoods that are flattened,” Carter said. “There are other neighborhoods that have tree and roof damage. We’re seeing neighbors helping neighbors, and that’s what you want to see. That’s what America was founded on.

Carter said Disaster Relief also has dispatched a shower unit so that emergency workers and local residents will have a way to clean up after long days working on the community’s recovery.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who toured the destruction Wednesday, said damage and loss of life would likely have been far greater if the tornado had stayed on the ground longer.

“It is literally total devastation for some homes,” Kemp said. “We walked through a house where there’s no wood left on that house. It’s nothing but a foundation with a water heater sitting there.”