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Churches, communities assess damage from tornadoes


By United Methodist News Service

Communities from western Texas to Georgia were assessing damages May 5 after tornadoes struck the south central and southeastern United States, leaving at least 35 people dead.

United Methodist officials in some states gave preliminary reports on the damages in their communities, even as the assessment - and the storms - continued.

Pierce City, Mo., was devastated by a tornado May 4. Not one business or house in the small town was undamaged. Officials are reporting that the pastor there is OK, and a conference staff member was on his way to lend assistance. Communications are much impaired.

The new Carl Junction (Mo.) United Methodist Church was demolished. About 25 people in the church were unhurt. The community is near Joplin.

Two sides of the Stockton (Mo.) United Methodist Church - northwest of Springfield, Mo. - were taken out by the storms. Members of the youth group, who had been at the church, were evacuated to nearby homes, where they rode out the storm safely in various basements.

Forty people took shelter in the basement of Battlefield (Mo.) United Methodist Church, south of Springfield. The condition of the church is not known, but the house next door was destroyed.

Churches in other areas of Missouri, including Kansas City, are known to have wind and water damage. Many homes were damaged in Kansas City and suburbs, including those of church members. The Ozark Methodist Manor, the church's retirement home in Marionville, Mo., received minor wind damage.

In Crawford County in southeastern Kansas, four people died, including one United Methodist. One of the parsonages was damaged when the chimney fell on the roof. The Parsons District disaster trailer was deployed to Arma, Kan.

Cherokee County, also in southeastern Kansas, had three fatalities, including a United Methodist. Many church members suffered damaged homes and businesses.

Hard-hit Jackson, Tenn., reported 11 dead and many injured after a tornado during the night of May 4. The Memphis Annual (regional) Conference headquarters, several miles from downtown Jackson, was not damaged, but the Jackson United Methodist Church in downtown was damaged. Mother Liberty CME Church, also downtown, was destroyed.

Power poles were broken off, and a lack of power and water pressure has officials concerned. Additional storms were sweeping the area throughout May 5.

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