Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief crews helping tornado victims


PEMBROKE, Ga. — Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief workers reacted quickly to violent storms that were blamed for the deaths of at least three people across the South.

In Pembroke, a chainsaw crew made up of local church members have been helping to clear fallen trees and debris from homes after a tornado blew through the community Tuesday evening, killing one woman and injuring several others.

The National Weather Service said the severe weather swept through Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas. One person was killed in Louisiana and another in Texas.

And in Bryan County, about 30 miles west of Savannah, a woman was found dead Tuesday night amid the shredded wreckage of her mobile home in the unincorporated community of Ellabell, Bryan County Coroner Bill Cox told The Associated Press.

“It was just completely ripped to pieces,” Cox said Wednesday. “It’s like it exploded.”

Cellphone video showed a large funnel cloud crossing Interstate 16 in Bryan County.

Sections of the Bryan County Courthouse roof was torn off. Several nearby homes were damaged and people were injured.

Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief Director Dwain Carter said chaplains have been dispatched to Pembroke along with the chainsaw crews 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.”

In South Carolina, about a dozen homes were destroyed or heavily damaged Tuesday in rural Allendale County, the AP reported. Tractors and other equipment were flipped and twisted on a number of farms in South Carolina’s least populated county. Other storms caused damage to solar panels near Bowman and flipped vehicles and shopping carts in a Walmart parking lot in Manning.