Hope Force personnel were deployed to Harvest, Alabama after the town was hit by an EF-2 tornado early this month. Harvest was among the areas affected by an outbreak of storms that swept through the Midwest and Southeast March 2-3. Tornadoes were reported from Mississippi and Georgia all the way up to Indiana and Ohio. The outbreak began early Friday morning and continued until the next day, with a total of 75 tornadoes touching down.
In Alabama, the county where Harvest is located was among the hardest hit areas. Between Huntsville and the Alabama/Tennessee border, a span of only 20 miles, ten tornadoes were reported. The devastation was compounded by the fact that Harvest suffered tornado devastation less than a year ago when over 200 tornadoes hit the southeastern United States in April of 2010. Read the Fox News coverage for Harvest here.
?Our hearts grieve over reports of new damage in Alabama where we served last year,? Hope Force Co-Founder Cherie Minton said. ?It's hard to imagine what it would be like to just begin to think you are back on your feet again, only to lose everything once more." If you would like to donate to the Hope Force relief efforts currently underway, please click here.
When HFI co-founder Jack Minton and HFI staff member Craig Snow arrived in Harvest to assess the damage, members of the community were already trying to tarp damaged roofs. Hope Force helped residents tarp roofs last April and provided this much-needed assistance again in response to the recent tornado. ?While some Reservists were tarping roofs, emotional and spiritual caregivers were reaching out to the community,? Cherie said. ?Multiple trauma experiences so close together create an incredible emotional impact. These precious people are shell-shocked, so our emotional and spiritual care teams were there to help them process.?
Many families in Harvest who received assistance from Hope Force when their homes were damaged last April are facing severe property damage once again. One elderly woman who received a FEMA trailer after losing her house in last year?s tornado is without a home yet again. Another couple that was about to move back into their home after completing repairs from last year?s tornado also suffered damage a second time. ?Sadly, some of these people have once again lost everything,? Cherie said. ?However, we have not heard of anyone who has been hurt in this part of the country, and for that we are grateful.? View photos from the Reservist response efforts.
A large group of Hope Force Reservists reached Harvest March 4 to assist in recovery. Among them were the newest additions to the Hope Force staff, Davey and Jessica Anderson. The Andersons arrived from California on March 3, just in time to jump into the Harvest relief efforts. Cherie commented, ?God's timing is perfect, and we're so grateful for Davey and Jess's arrival. We believe without a doubt that they are here ?for such a time as this?."
HFI teams also served in the towns of Marysville and Henryville, Indiana where the tornadoes wreaked horrible destruction. Teams of emotional and spiritual caregivers worked in the area, while other HFI responders served alongside HFI's national partner, The Salvation Army, in the distribution tent.
On March 16, Dr. John Van Tiem and his wife, Cindy responded to an F3 tornado that hit Dexter, Michigan, only a few miles from their home. "John said that he has never seen this kind of weather, especially this far north, so early in the year," Cherie explains. "John and Cindy were able to practice what we call 'the ministry of presence' in this neighborhood that has been restricted to the public since the immediate aftermath. Often times, it's just a comforting presence of a person who has been trained to know how to be an appropriate caregiver that makes all the difference when people are reeling from the impact of something like this. There were no other chaplains in the area during the time that they were serving here."
Click here for dramatic footage of the Michigan tornadoes.
As Reservists work towards recovery in this area that has been plagued with tornado destruction, please keep the entire Hope Force team in your prayers.
To contribute to the these efforts, please click here: