Disaster Relief completes tornado deployment; WMU Foundation provides grant to help victims


PEMBROKE, Ga. — Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief crews have completed a deployment in the eastern part of the state where tornadoes did widespread damage last week.

And the Woman’s Missionary Union Foundation has provided a grant to help storm victims who are having temporarily relocate.

Chainsaw crews were on the ground around Pembroke within hours of the deadly tornado outbreak, removing downed trees and putting tarps on mangled roofs to keep rain out.

Best known for providing muscle to help storm victims with cleanup, Disaster Relief also provided volunteers for childcare, so that parents could devote their time to making their damaged homes livable.

The tornado outbreak was blamed for three deaths across the South, including one in Ellabell, about 30 miles west of Savannah.

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

Newly installed Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief Director Dwain Carter, overseeing his first deployment in the role, said chaplains were also dispatched to minister to survivors. In addition, he said a shower unit was sent in so that emergency workers and local residents would have a way to clean up after long days working on the community’s recovery.

“The areas that were bad were bulldozer bad,” Carter said. “Forty-two homes were totally destroyed. But it was sporadic, and some areas were spared major damage. So, we were able to get things cleaned up quicker than we had initially thought.”

The national WMU Foundation provided a $4,500 grant to help churches in the area minister to tornado victims.

Lauren Sullens, president of Georgia WMU, said the tornadoes left more than 9 miles of devastation in Black Creek, Ellabell and Pembroke.

“Municipal buildings and the recreation department were destroyed, but, more heartbreaking, at least 60 homes were impacted with at least 45 in the category of significant damage to total destruction,” Sullens said.

Sullens said three Southern Baptist churches in the affected area provided shelter and food.

Those churches will use the WMU grant to help families who have to temporarily relocate as a result of the tornadoes.