Remembering Harvest, Alabama
April 27, 2011
With every disaster response, Hope Force staff and volunteers make treasured new friendships with those that we serve. Most often when our work finishes, we rarely see them again. Staff couples Chuck & Sue Duby and Craig & Beckie Snow recently shared in the gift of returning to Harvest, Alabama to attend a celebration of “Remembering - 5 years after”.
On April 27, 2011, 219 tornadoes touched down across multiple states and Canada. An E-5 tornado (highest ranking possible on the Enhanced Fujita scale) struck Harvest as it carved an 80-mile path of destruction. Hope Force volunteers soon arrived on the scene to provide assistance with clean up, roof tarping and chaplaincy support.
On April 27th this year, community members, city officials, volunteer organizations and local pastors gathered at a gymnasium in Harvest to reflect and give thanks. Stories flowed: of a car lifted by the tornado and carried over a mile, of a pair of jeans landing 80 miles away, a survival in a large freezer, and newscasters unable to keep emotions in control while giving reports on the devastation for hours.
Craig Snow, Hope Force Programs Director, spoke on behalf of all volunteer groups who served Harvest homeowners. He reminded listeners of the privilege we have in sharing a community’s recovery struggle, bringing hearts of compassion and then celebrating all that’s been multiplied 5 years later. Modeled after Hope Force, Harvest residents helped pioneer a countywide disaster response force now ready to serve others in time of need.
As we prepared to leave, precious "gifts" in the form of thanks and gratitude arrived at our table. Jennifer expressed thanks for our work, which challenged her to later serve alongside us in Moore, Oklahoma. Nan reflected on the kindness of Hope Force volunteers who sifted through rubble to find her keepsakes. When she later unpacked the storage unit, Nan discovered hand-written notes of encouragement inside each box. “We were doubly blessed!” Danny concluded, “Hope Force showed me how using grace in God’s name in disaster work makes a difference! How we handle disasters defines us as a community.”
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