Heritage Academy was the only school able to respond to hurricane Sally in Fair Hope, Alabama due to COVID 19 constraints for schools. They were limited to taking their junior and senior classes instead of the whole school because the church where they stayed could not accommodate more. They partnered with the Gulf States Conference who provided use of their shower trailer as the church had not showers. They worked alongside the pastor and his members to help with cleanup for church members and the surrounding community. Thirty families benefited from their efforts throughout that week. The church was very appreciative and supportive and even provided an evening at the beach, sundown worship, and supper afterwards.
The tornado descended near Camp Jordon and moved through Audubon Acres Bird Sanctuary downing dozens of trees and passing within 200 yards of Jim Ingersoll’s home, Program Director for 2Serve, on its journey of destruction to the other side of Collegedale, TN. It left behind a trail of destroyed homes, businesses, schools , churches and parks. As our home and yard were spared my wife and I went out immediately after the storm passed to assess the damage in our community and see if anyone was injuried. Finding no homes damaged and trees blocking the only road out of our part of the community we stared clearing it at 4:00 a.m. using car headlights to work by. We worked 1 1/2 hours on our own before being joined by a neighbor with his saw and at first light our son arrived followed by other neighbors shortly thereafter. It took us until about 8 a.m. to get one lane cleared at which time first responders began to arrive to do their assessment of our neighborhood. I gave them a brief report of what they would find and carried on with further road clearing with our neighbors. At around 9 a.m. a group of workers from Howe Farms, including our daughter arrived with a bobcat that could move bigger logs out of the way much more easily. Shortly thereafter we got the upper road cleared and moved on to help people clear their yards and driveways getting most everyone cleared by 5 p.m. making for a long day of work.
2Serve led a team of adults they put together along with other volunteers recruited by the Collegedale Seventh-day Adventist Church over the next two weeks helping people on Bill Reid Road and in the Holly Hills community mostly. While we had Southern Adventist University students helping us on two most university and academy students were not available to respond because of social distancing and having to do their schoolwork via Zoom. It was necessary for them to attend each class when presented as it would be next to impossible to make up work since most presentations were not recorded. It was a different experience for 2Serve to have only one team of responders at a time as we usually averaged about 100 students and sponsors per day making up at least five to seven response teams with each team helping two to three homes daily depending on the extent of damage they encountered.
Each person we helped had a story of how they survived the tornado as no one had opportunity to evacuate with some only making it to a safe place mere seconds before the tornado destroyed their home. One gentlemen was totally distraught and in tears believing they were lied to by their insurance company that promised help that did not come. We prayed with the people we helped and in most cases were able to give them a colorful copy of the book Steps To Christ. It is always so heartwarming to see so many good people doing so much good for their neighbors without any thought of getting anything in return. Another very interesting observation was how the concern for social distancing never came up as hundreds of people worked closely together, ate together, hugged, shook hands and prayed with each other without an increase of COVID -19 cases noted in the Greater Chattanooga Area. We are continuing to see an increase in natural disasters giving people many opportunities to help each other in the aftermath. Please pray for the people who lost so much from this storm as the world as a whole has moved on but many people’s journey to recovery is just beginning.
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