National WMU Foundation provides more funding for Georgia tornado victims


PEMBROKE, Ga. — Georgians whose homes were severely damaged or destroyed by tornadoes earlier this month could qualify for financial help through the Southern Baptist Convention’s Woman’s Missionary Union Foundation.

The national WMU Foundation has awarded a $20,000 grant that will be distributed by First Baptist Church of Pembroke. That’s in addition to $4,500 that the WMU Foundation sent to Georgia shortly after the tornadoes struck.

The tornado outbreak was blamed for three deaths across the South, including one in Ellabell, about 30 miles west of Savannah. Some 60 homes were impacted along a nine-mile path through Ellabell, Black Creek and Pembroke.

Downed trees had knocked out electric service to much of the area, and Georgia Power set up an operations center at First Baptist Pembroke as crews worked to restore power.

“Most people have gotten things cleared up around their houses and are trying to get insurance people out to figure out what they’re going to do with their claims,” said Susan Nelson, WMU leader at First Baptist Pembroke.

Lauren Sullens, president of Georgia WMU, said her organization has a strong compassion ministry, and that she was pleased national leaders recognized the needs in the hard-hit area.

“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.

Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief chainsaw crews were on the ground around Pembroke within hours of the tornado outbreak, removing downed trees and putting tarps on mangled roofs to keep rain out.

“The areas that were bad were bulldozer bad,” said Disaster Relief Director Dwain Carter said.

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

Carter 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.