Baptists on Mission (BOM) volunteers continue to serve Brunswick County residents affected by last week’s tornado that killed three people, injured 10 and damaged more than 50 homes in the Ocean Ridge Plantation neighborhood.
An EF3 tornado packing winds of up to 160 mph tore across Brunswick County and into Columbus County shortly before midnight Feb. 15.
Disaster relief teams are cutting trees, removing debris, cleaning up yards and praying with and encouraging families, according to Tom Beam, BOM disaster relief coordinator. Teams have come from Wrightsville Beach Baptist Church, First Baptist Church of Cary, First Baptist Church of Shallotte and other churches in Brunswick County.
“We have been able to work with the Brunswick County Emergency Managers office, local churches and Jeff Gibby at the Brunswick Baptist Association,” Beam said in a statement to the Biblical Recorder. “We are thankful for the partnerships we have when needs arrive.”
Joshua Reilly, pastor of Long Leaf Baptist Church in Wilmington, prays with survivor Fred Thomas.
An EF3 tornado destroyed homes in Brunswick County Feb. 15.
Thirteen people from the Cape Fear Network of Baptist Churches and the Brunswick Baptist Association cleaned up debris and prayed with residents Feb. 17. Another local team is scheduled to continue relief efforts this Wednesday, according to John McIntyre, senior pastor of Wrightsville Beach Baptist Church and network facilitator for the Cape Fear Network.
Volunteers heard stories from members of the community. One man’s 87-year-old parents grabbed blankets and rushed into a hallway just as pressure blew windows and doors out of their home.
Fred Thomas told volunteers he received a tornado alert on his phone, but it was about five minutes too late. His friends, Richard and Phyllis O’Connor, died in the storm.
McIntyre said he finds tornados “uniquely painful” among natural disasters. While preparation for other storms can begin weeks in advance, “tornados usually spin up completely unexpected and usually with very little advance warning,” he told the Recorder in an email.
“I’m reminded in times like these of the frailty and brevity of our lives on this side of eternity and how we absolutely must be ready,” McIntyre said. “Through this ministry [disaster response], we have a chance to meet deep physical and emotional needs while opening a door for eternal discussions.”
Beam expects recovery work to continue through the week.