From Tornado to Hope

February 24, 2016, brought an EF-3 tornado and a significant challenge for the community Appomattox, Va.

Virginia Baptist Disaster Response leaders connected with local pastors Adam Tyler (Grace Hills) and Scott Curtis (Providence) to ensure a rapid, thorough response to help these pastors and their churches minister to the needs of their community.

Volunteers from Nickelsville install temporary roofing on a home damaged after the Appomattox tornado.

Volunteers from Nickelsville install temporary roofing on a home damaged after the Appomattox tornado.

Over the course of seven days, dozens of volunteers served in Appomattox, including chain saw teams with heavy equipment from Lynchburg, Va., and Nickelsville, Va. They cut trees and installed temporary roofing to ensure homes were not damaged further. Teams also assisted Central Church, a BGAV congregation in Appomattox whose building was destroyed in the tornado, with clearing the church yard of tornado debris.

A few weeks later, after the initial clean up had subsided, the Appomattox County Long Term Recovery Group (LTRG) formed. Immediately, a need was identified for a volunteer coordinator to help organize the countless volunteers who would assist in rebuilding efforts. Virginia Baptist Disaster Response, through the generous support of the BGAV, offered to staff this position. Kristen Curtis filled this role in the community while also speaking in churches throughout the Southside Region, sharing the great work of disaster response efforts in Appomattox and beyond.

As the two-year anniversary of the tornado approached and the volunteer efforts drew to a close, David Sexton, pastor of Elon Church, offered this call to the Appomattox Association, a network of 28 churches together on mission:

Many will not forget the sight of our neighbors…digging through the rubble that was left behind from the EF3 tornado that struck our community on February 24, 2016…

The Appomattox Baptist Association played an integral role in the initial help that was to come to the community…

Often the story ends there…the immediate needs are met and we move on and gloss over the lingering effects of those affected by such a great disaster…

But that’s not all, the story continued…because of the ABA’s immense involvement, one of our own was chosen to be the Volunteer Coordinator…financially supported through Virginia Baptist Disaster Response…

…There is still more work to be done…After speaking with several of the pastors and Ministry Team members of the Association, I think it fitting that the Appomattox Baptist Association’s part of the recovery story continue.

The Appomattox Association generously granted $5,000 to help fund a Virginia Baptist Disaster Response Volunteer Coordinator position, helping volunteers connect with opportunities to serve in disaster-affected communities throughout the mid-Atlantic and around the world. This tremendous gift will allow us to offer increased support to volunteers responding to disaster-affected communities.

Though a tornado caused significant damage in Appomattox County, the legacy lives on.