Arkansas Baptist News
MOUNTAINBURG – Arkansas Baptist disaster relief (DR) teams were wrapping up efforts Monday April 16 after assisting residents of the Mountainburg community following a devastating EF-2 tornado that ripped through the mountain town Friday evening April 13.
Authorities reported some residents trapped in buildings after the tornado but people escaped with only minor injuries and no one was killed. In all 160 structures in the small town were damaged by the tornado which downed 200-year-old trees and ripped off roofs from buildings and houses.
Numerous agencies initially responded following the tornado – including the American Red Cross – but Arkansas Baptist DR was one of few organizations left Monday said Ted Darling DR chaplain and retired pastor of First Baptist Church in Ozark.
“It’s one of these situations where you don’t have a lot of initial help” said Darling. “The Methodists were feeding yesterday (but) pretty much everyone has pulled out. Mainly because they are not going to declare this a disaster the Red Cross isn’t going to be here very long – in fact they are already gone. We have volunteers trying to do some of the remainder.”
Larry Horne pastor of First Baptist Church in Mountainburg said it was the “first time we have had a tornado at least in modern history.” Horne has pastored the church since 2004.
“We’ve had good response. The Arkansas Baptist (DR) team was there yesterday. They are back there today so we are pretty delighted” said Horne who added the church had “minimal damage.”
“We had a sign blow away and some shingles and a couple of trees (were downed)” he said adding “We were really really blessed to have almost no damage.”
A new building the church has occupied about three years was not damaged said Horne.
“(Our) new building was not hit at all so that was a good thing so for the most part we were pretty fortunate.”
Robert Thompson DR unit leader from Northwest Baptist Association said Monday “there is not a whole lot left (for us to do). The community has really come together and helped one another. That’s the way they are supposed to.”
He said DR teams have been doing chainsaw and recovery since Sunday.
“We are trying to get things cleaned up so normal life can come back” said Thompson.
“Right now I’m looking at about three ‘hangers’ just hanging there (large branches of trees that could fall at any time)” said Thompson. “They call ‘hangers’ widow makers for a reason. When they come down it’s always at the wrong time.”
Teams were expected to wrap up work today unless something happens to keep them there he said.
One job DR crews completed Sunday was “because no one there had the talent or expertise to do what we were doing” said Thompson who added that while there have been no professions of faith recorded during the deployment teams have had “a lot of interest in what they are doing and why they are doing it.”
“There are always those who drive by and say “Hmm I wonder what they are doing there?’” said Thompson adding “We’re just here serving the Lord.”
Contact Tim Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org.