April 27 Storms
On April 27, 62 tornadoes ripped through the state of Alabama. As of the 6-month milestone, more than 250 people died from the storms.
The paths of the tornadoes stretched 1,177 miles long and more than 20 miles wide, causing more than 20,000 square miles of damage in the state. There were more than 23,000 homes damaged from the morning and afternoon tornadoes, amounting to an estimated $1.1 billion in damage. Tornadoes caused 10 million cubic yards of debris, and upon the 3-month milestone of the storms, FEMA and the Alabama EMA estimated a 90 percent completion of debris cleanup, which opens the door to rebuilding. The damage and aftermath of April 27 placed Alabama as the deadliest weather states in the nation.
The Early Response
Nothing could have prepared us for the magnitude and severity of the storms we experienced in Alabama on April 27, but the church stepped up.
The Local Church—Immediately after the tornadoes local churches showed the community what it means to “be the church.” Even though many had just experienced severe loss themselves, congregations began to assist neighbors. Congregations served as:
· Red Cross shelters, housing many storm survivors.
· Feeding centers, serving thousands of meals. One of our United Methodist churches served more than 20,000 meals in one week.
· Distribution points for relief materials, delivering water, food, clothes, blankets, and just about everything else to thousands of neighbors in need.
· Host sites for volunteers from around the country, hosting hundreds of volunteers working in the surrounding communities.
The North Alabama Conference and UMCOR—While local churches were working feverishly on the front lines, the North Alabama Annual Conference, with aid from United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), worked to meet immediate needs while simultaneously putting in place a long-term recovery structure as follows:
· Bishop Will Willimon immediately requested assistance from UMCOR.
· UMCOR consultants came to Alabama and spread out across the state, offering advice and assistance.
· The Conference quickly installed a Disaster Response Call Center.
· The Conference received shipments of aid and coordinated distribution.
· The Conference established a North Alabama Disaster Recovery Team.
Disaster Response Blog (for events covering Disaster Response leading up to Recovery)
Churches Damaged or Destroyed
Below is a map showing the locations of some of our dedicated ERT volunteers that initially responded to debris removal. We are so thankful for their work and dedication to serve as Christ's hands and feet.
View North Alabama Conference Early Response Teams in a larger map