Weekend tornado damage opens Alabama wounds

By April 18, 2012

USA (MNN) — Tornado season has hit the United States hard. Over 120 tornadoes were reported last weekend alone.

The damage has not been insignificant. At least six people were killed after a tornado ripped through northwest Oklahoma. Many homes have been turned to rubble.

Thankfully, though, the damage isn't anywhere near what it could have beeb. 120 tornadoes worth of damage could have been much worse, but the twisters struck mainly unpopulated or just not densely-populated areas. In fact, the effects of the tornadoes have not even been enough to get the Evangelical Free Church of America TouchGlobal Crisis Response team on the ground.

"It seems like local resources, in most cases, are being able to address most of those needs," says Crisis Response director Mark Lewis.

TouchGlobal may not have a need to respond, but that certainly doesn't mean they're not working on tornado cleanup. The tornadoes that hit last weekend are a reminder of how long-term these crises will inevitably be.

"The interesting thing with the tornadoes: they're in the news for a day or two, but they drop out pretty quickly," Lewis remarks. "Yet, even a year later, there are still people in the Harvest, Alabama area that need help."

The people of Harvest, Alabama were still trying to recover from a devastating 2011 tornado when another tornado hit almost the exact same area. For Harvest residents, just the reports of tornado possibilities last weekend were enough to put their hair on end.

Tornado victims living in Harvest have been through a great deal of loss, but the TouchGlobal is one of the only–if not THE only–group assisting in the tiring rebuild process. Lewis says the volume of tornadoes as of late has put places like Harvest on the back burner.

"[With] many of these small tornadoes in many different places all at once, the resources to come and help at one particular place really end up getting diffused," says Lewis. "Without the word getting out, people probably don't even know that there's a need for a whole lot of hands to come to Harvest, Alabama."

But there is indeed still a great deal of need. Some homes that TouchGlobal had rebuilt since the 2011 tornado were torn apart again last month. This coming weekend, a team is embarking on an extreme rebuild effort to tackle a number of home repairs. This effort will still only put a dent in the long-term work of debris removal and rebuild ahead.

The EFCA church in Harvest, Hope Church, is committed to the cause. They have been deeply involved with cleanup and rebuild efforts, and they continue to provide physically and spiritually for the community. The emotional scars left on Harvest residents are especially deep, but since Hope Church has been sending out regular prayer teams, Lewis says residents are talking about spiritual things and hope in a way they never have before.

"There is a lot of seed planting and watering being done, and the harvest is really up to the Lord," says Lewis.

There are a lot of things that believers can do to help in the process. Teams are needed to head to Harvest. Debris removal equipment is needed, especially chain saws to cut fallen limbs. Financial and prayer support are also vital. To find out how you can best respond to the recent tornadoes, visit touchglobal.org/tornado.

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