Photo courtesy of Rev. Mike Evans
By Jessica Brodie
A dozen members of South Carolina’s United Methodist Volunteers in Mission Early Response Team headed to the Black Hawk/Winona area of Mississippi April 11 to help people after a swath of tornadoes left lives and homes shattered.
Multiple tornadoes swept through the Southeast on the evening of March 24, ultimately claiming the lives of 26 people in Mississippi and Alabama with many more injured and widespread damage to homes, businesses and farmland across the region.
South Carolina’s “Team Alpha,” led by the Rev. Mike Evans, spent four days doing ERT work in the area, making repairs and doing all they could to help people connect with God in a time of deep and devastating loss.
Evans said ERT members also spent time sorting through fields of debris with survivors, helping them find something for the families to hold onto in their grief.
“This was definitely a different type of call-out,” Evans said. “There was nothing to tarp, so we picked up debris and did chainsaw work.”
The team stayed at Moore Memorial United Methodist Church in Winona, and four people from the UMC in Missouri joined the 12 from South Carolina to help.
Evans sent the Advocate a photograph of all that was left of Black Hawk UMC—a few brick steps and some posts.
The pastor and his wife also lost their parsonage in the tornadoes, telling Evans they watched their house blow away above them as they huddled in their car in the garage.
Evans said the church plans to rebuild.
A second team from South Carolina was supposed to help the week after, but the ERT phase of disaster recovery ended earlier than expected.
ERT Coordinator Billy Robinson lifted up thanks to the volunteers and others who make these ministries possible.
“From prayers, to donated hours and finances, coordination, supplies, having our back, looking out for each other as family, it is all so vitally needed,” Robinson said.
To get involved with South Carolina’s Early Response Team, email Robinson at [email protected].