At least five were left dead in AL on Thursday, March 25, after a severe weather outbreak in the south that spawned several tornadoes. Five deaths occurred in Calhoun County, just east of Birmingham. Four of the victims lived in Ohatchee, where significant damage occured; the fifth victim was killed in a mobile home in Wellington. At least a half dozen tornadoes were confirmed in AL, while one was confirmed in MS and another in TN. The next day the National Weather Service declared a tornado emergency for Newnan, GA, about 35 miles southwest of Atlanta.
The large tornado that struck Brent and Centreville AL promped the Weather Service to issue a ‘tornado emergency’ and warn of potentially ‘catastrophic’ damage. Radar showed a large amount of debris from this tornado lofted into the atmosphere in what is known as a ‘debris ball’ signature. “What you are seeing is graphic violence,” said Birmingham TV meteorologist James Spann as he described the radar shown to viewers. James’ own home suffered significant damage from the storm. Although MNA Disaster Response is assisting in many areas of AL in response to this event, Brent is the only area where Sheds of Hope are being deployed.
This isn’t the first historic-strength tornado that has crushed Brent. On May 27, 1973, a category 4 tornado tore through the Brent, Centreville, Montevallo, and Greensboro area, leaving 90 percent of the city of Brent destroyed. The tornado demolished more than 12,000 acres of timber and over 500 buildings; 72 people in the area were injured and five of its citizens killed. The thoughts and fears of that dreadful day were still lingering with the citizens of Brent and were pushed again to the forefront when the March 2021 tornado occurred. The City of Brent was founded in 1898 but was forever changed on that day in 1973. A site next to the current City Hall building was dedicated to the people of Brent whose lives were devastating by the powerful tornado. Five lives were lost:
MNA Disaster Response is assisting Brent Presbyterian Church after the recent tornado. Although the church was established in 1907 it was in 1973 that Brent Presbyterian Church became a founding member of Warrior Presbytery and eventually the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). Brent PCA’s current pastor is Rev. Mitchell L. Haubert, who was installed in 2015. He also serves as the Executive Director of Jumpstart-Alabama and the Coordinator for Birmingham Theological Seminary’s Prison Initiative Program. If you are on Facebook you can visit Pastor Mitch’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/chaplain.bull If you would like to know more about Jumpstart Alabama, please go here: https://www.jumpstartvision.org/alabama/. To read a summary of Birmingham Theological Seminary’s Prison Initiative Program, click this link: https://bts.education/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Prison-Initiative-Brochure.pdf
After the storm as soon as access was allowed MNA Disaster Response TAG Region Specialist Mike Kennamer requested Sheds of Hope kits be sent to Brent PCA. MNA Disaster Response Logistics Specialist Marty Huddleston loaded the kits at the Rome GA warehouse and rendezvoused with Mike and MNA Disaster Response FL Region Specialist Keith Perry in Brent. Over the next few days Mike and Keith trained church members on how to setup the Sheds of Hope on the property of homeowners displaced by the storms. The old training model, ‘See one, Do one, Teach one’ method that is so effective was employed to train these volunteers. Some members of the Jumpstart Alabama program joined the efforts.
Spring tornado season is no where near over just yet and the Atlantic Hurricane Season is just around the corner. Colorado State University has recently released their 2021 predictions and if they prove true it’s going to be another doozy. Obviously, only the Lord knows for sure, but making preparations is always a good idea – and biblical. The Word has a lot to say about being prudent and wise.
If you would like to join in the relief efforts in AL you can reach Mike Kennamer at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the MNA Disaster Response TAG (Tennessee-Alabama-Georgia) Region webpage at http://mnadrtag.com.
Additionally, we are now moving towards resuming training events. If you would like to schedule a Sheds of Hope training or a general disaster response training event at your presbytery or church, please contact Arklie Hooten at email@example.com.
In preparation for the upcoming storm season you can register as a MNA Disaster Response Volunteer. Please click here to register as a volunteer.
If you would like to support the ministry of MNA Disaster Response, please click here.
Mission to North America (MNA) leadership has approved the launch of a capital-campaign to raise the funds necessary to purchase or build a disaster readiness campus along the Ocala/Lakeland I-75 corridor in central Florida. This is a bold new step for Mission to North America Disaster Response in our effort to provide a higher level of support to the congregations and presbyteries of Florida.
The target location in Florida was chosen after much research and many conversations between MNA Disaster Response staff, key leaders, and seasoned volunteers. Please click the picture or the link below the picture to better understand our reasoning and purpose in making this bold move, and for ways you can partner with us to make this resource a reality.
First Hurricane Laura, then Hurricane Delta!! One disaster is too many, but two within six weeks is more than any community should need to endure. But that is exactly what happened. Hurricane Laura, a major wind event – coming ashore with stronger winds than Hurricane Katrina and actually sending the MS River backwards – upended Lake Charles LA on August 27 at near peak intensity. Then, on October 5, Hurricane Delta, a major rain event, blasted Lake Charles dumping torrential rains that flooded blue-tarpped homes that were still ‘shingle-less’ after Laura.
Sheds of Hope deployed shortly after the storms and so far six Sheds of Hope have gone to Lake Charles. Today, two additional SOH were constructed on the grounds of Bethel PCA to store church belongings while the church is being dried out and rebuilt. When Laura pounded Lake Charles, Bethel’s roof was significantly damaged. Some water entered the church in various spots after shingles were ripped off by the storm. MNA Disaster Response volunteers and church members blue-tarpped the roof until a replacement plan is settled on by the congregation.
Then, just six weeks later, Hurricane Delta, brought about six inches of flood water into the the church physical plant. Again, volunteers from several congregations including Westminster PCA-Bryan TX, St Roch PCA-New Orleans LA, Redeemer PCA-Katy TX, and Grace PCA-Shreveport LA, descended on Lake Charles to gut the saturated drywall up to the 16-1/2″ level, and remove contaminated insulation from almost the entire church physical plant.
While those volunteers tackled the arduous task of gutting and cleaning the building, other volunteers and church members assembled two Sheds of Hope to store church items for safe keeping while the reconstruction is underway.
Sheds of Hope had already built two sheds at Bethel to store tools and equipment while the response is underway.
Huge shout-out to Covenant PCA-Auburn AL, and Plains PCA Zachary LA, churches that have the distinction of being ‘pre-builders’ of Sheds of Hope. These congregations have heavily invested in this important ministry, understanding it’s importance. These sheds were ‘ready-to-go’ and delivered to Lake Charles when we put the call out that sheds were needed.
Other congregations are ramping up their pre-building activities, including Lake Oconee PCA in GA and Memorial PCA in TN.
Let us know if your church would like to receive training and begin building Sheds of Hope.
Early on August 27, Hurricane Laura made landfall near peak intensity in LA. This was the tenth-strongest U.S. hurricane landfall by windspeed on record. The storm killed at least 22 people in the US and inflicted an estimated $8 billion in insured damage on southwestern LA and southeastern TX. It was the deadliest hurricane in the US since Hurricane Michael killed 59 in 2018. Hurricane Laura was a deadly and damaging Cat-4 that likely tied the 1856 Last Island Hurricane as the strongest hurricane ever recorded to make landfall in LA.
Seven days before Laura reached LA, forecasters indicated that landfall was imminent and MNA Disaster Response (MNADR) jumped into action and began preparing to respond. Staff and volunteers began preparing equipment and supplies at both our Dallas TX Depot and our Rome GA Warehouse. Grant Williamson, MNA Disaster Response Key Leader, and team members used chainsaws to cut their way into Bethel PCA Lake Charles LA to assess the damage and secure the physical plant. Evan Scroggs, MNA Gulf Coast Specialist, reached Lake Charles LA / Bethel PCA on Saturday morning and provided additional assessment even as other southern LA Presbytery teams assisted Pastor Jones and members of Deridder PCA after a tree landed inside his home.
After the initial assessment, our logistics team was able to reach Bethel PCA with one of our self-contained mobile bunkhouses from the Dallas Depot and key leaders from Delhi LA were able transport the Presbytery of the MS Valley’s mobile shower trailer there as well. Keith Perry, MNA Disaster Response Specialist-FL, made his way to Bethel PCA to set up operations. He is assisted by Mark Becker, RE at Christ Church, Katy TX, one of our DR Key Leaders. Please pray especially for these incredible men. Although MNADR has coordinated over 60 major responses, we will be facing many challenges during this response as we will absolutely be building the 747 as we fly it while being tested by Covid-19. Other MNADR teams were mobilized including Gulf Coast Presbytery’s chainsaw army. Loads of tools and pandemic supplies were sent from our Rome Warehouse where volunteers and staff from the TAG (TN, AL, GA) Region worked into the night loading up transport trailers.
Power is not expected to be restored anytime soon; we have heard that seven of the nine major transmission-lines that feed power to Lake Charles LA are catastrophically destroyed. That means that every business, church, home, etc. will not have refrigeration, AC, lights, etc. without generator power. Generators are in scare supply, are expensive, and require much attention to keep fueled. Even gas stations need electricity to pump the fuel from the holding tanks to your vehicle and almost every station depends on satellites to process credit cards. Without power, HVAC units, fans, blowers or pumps will not work, resulting in buildings that quickly become ‘sick’ with mold and mildew. In God’s providence Bethel PCA was able to secure a trailer mounted industrial generator that was hooked up to the church, allowing the AC to be restarted and the kitchen to be used. Such generators cost $700-$1,000 a week to lease, an expensive proposition. Once buildings becomes ‘sick’ they sometimes reach the point of no return and need to be leveled. Wisely, our mobile bunkhouses have Honda power plants that are sufficient to power their HVAC systems and provide enough additional power to support our mobile shower trailers. Air conditioned sleeping and clean, hot showers are vital for teams working in these conditions.
Plains Presbyterian Church of Zachary LA, near Baton Rouge showed up this week with two prebuilt Sheds of Hope to setup at the Bethel PCA recovery site, arduous work in sweltering conditions on a blacktop parking lot in 95* temperature. This is a typical operation that we are thankful for. These sheds will be used to provide secure worksite storage for valuable equipment and supplies that are used by our volunteer teams.
Bethel PCA, our host site, actually had a shed but Laura picked it up, overturned it, and slammed it down between two trees! Hopefully our teams will be able to upright it at some point in the near future. Law enforcement agencies typically use the universal 10-code system to communicate with each other. I can’t help but think if Sheds could talk they would have contacted one-another and yelled, “Shed down, needs assistance. 10-999! 10-999!!”
Over the next few weeks, our teams will be concentrating on chainsaw work, tree and debris removal, and evaluating the need for Sheds of Hope. If our site managers signal that Sheds of HOPE are needed, we are ready to deploy. We currently have 20 sheds ready at the Rome Warehouse, 11 at the Dallas Depot, and several churches are ramping up production and have builds scheduled over the next few weeks.
Our new Sheds of Hope setup trailers are ready to go. Our plan is to roll the one pictured above to Lake Charles LA next week. in the event that sheds are needed, it will be ready to support those efforts. Each of the new trailers has every needed tool to support teams setting up Sheds of HOPE
To know more about the response to Hurricane Laura, and to assist though financial means, participation, and prayer, please navigate to: pcamna.org and look for the red bar for the most current information.
The film Braveheart (1995) is one my all-time favorites and my fav scene is when the English cavalry is bearing down on William Wallace (Mel Gibson) and his fellow Scots. The cavalry approaches in slow motion as the hooves slam into the ground with increasing tempo. The Scot’s tension rapidly increases, along with the tension of the film’s viewers as the horses draw nearer while William Wallace shouts, “HOLD… HOLD… HOLD.” Wallace didn’t want his men to raise their spears too soon for doing so would alert the cavalry of the trap and they would likely retreat to avoid being impaled on the spears.
Using this scene as an analogy for our volunteer mobilization efforts, the approaching cavalry is the fear of missed opportunity to serve. Robust mobilization of volunteers during the ‘safer-in-place’ mandate is not allowed and likely will not be allowed for some time to come. Our stance for now continues to be, “HOLD… HOLD… HOLD!” Above all, we don’t have the capacity to thwart God’s providence in the current events unfolding around us. We do continue to register volunteers who are chomping at the bit, as they say, to re-engage at worksites. But we don’t want to re-engage too soon!
One day MNA Disaster Response, including Sheds of Hope, will be cleared to again mobilize volunteers. Meanwhile, our team of staff and volunteers have been investing massive amounts of time and effort preparing for that day, so that when it comes we may do so safely. Our network of relief providers have been innovative in finding ways to cautiously take steps during this time that will allow our teams to rapidly restart operations when it is safe. Take a look at the following pictures of a recent Shed of Hope build by Lake Oconee Presbyterian Church. They have been cautiously holding the line, complying with social distancing mandate, but staying busy staying on mission.
Building Sheds of Hope kits is construction, light construction, but construction just the same. Undertaking any type of construction during this time is a challenge. The team leaders put much thought and efforts perfecting a procedure that allows them to continue ministry. New protocols include less team members working at any one time, wearing masks, using hand sanitizer, maintaining distances, etc. They are looking forward to the day when the entire team can be together serving again. For now it is, “HOLD… HOLD… HOLD!“
Love will find a way! Lake Oconee PCA is not the only church Sheds of Hope team being innovative and finding a way to be fruitful during this time. Plains PCA-Zachary LA, Covenant PCA-Auburn AL, and Memorial PCA-Elizabethton TN, are also grappling with how best to build Sheds of Hope kits during this time. ‘Our Daily Bread’, the well known monthly devotional, recently published a devotional about a cartoon that depicted a sour, disgruntled, elderly gentleman standing in rumpled pajamas and robe at his apartment door. He had just secured the door for the night with four locks, two deadbolts, and a chain latch. Later he noticed a small white envelope stuck beneath the door. On the envelope was a large sticker in the shape of a heart. It was a valentine. Love had found a way! The Sheds of Hope teams are finding a way!
MNA Disaster Response has 31 Sheds of Hope kits ready to go, but many more are needed. Please let us know if you would like to develop a Sheds of Hope kit building team as we would love for you to join the movement. Please keep praying that our teams will continue to ‘Hold’, be innovative in the meanwhile, and when the time is right to again, ‘GO’!!
We were surprised when we received the call informing us that the twins, Vincent and Julius, arrived early! What a great blessing! Last Wednesday we immediately made our way to the local Homesteader dealer and took possession of the new Sheds of Hope setup trailers and transported them, one by one, to the Rome GA warehouse for outfitting.
Mike Kennamer, MNA warehouse manager, is making lists and checking them twice; he will begin sourcing the equipment for each trailer right-away. Outfitting should begin in July and likely take about two months to get the trailers road-ready.
When the trailers are ready for use we will transport Vincent (Twin #1) to the MNA Disaster Response Dallas Depot where he will be on standby when not deployed. Julius (Twin #2) will remain stationed at the MNA Rome Warehouse. If you would like to help with the outfitting, please check out the previous post. There you will find information on how to give a financial gift, and/or to volunteer on the project. Most of all, please join us in prayer giving thanks for these new tools that will be of great help as volunteer teams deploy to assist disaster-displaced families! Maybe they will be needed in your community.
MNA Sheds of Hope will soon be receiving two new trailers for use by teams setting up sheds during recovery operations. The trailers will be equipped with every tool needed by future volunteer teams setting up shed builds on disaster-displaced homeowner properties. Once road-ready, one of the trailers will be on standby at the MNA Charles H. Jones Family Disaster Relief Center in Rome GA and the other will be stationed at the MNA Disaster Response Dallas Depot. When Sheds of Hope are deployed the trailers will be sent to the recovery site to support the volunteer setup teams.
The trailer hooked to the van in the picture above and another just like it were purchased by North TX Presbytery for initial use during the Moore, OK tornado response (May 20, 2013). During that response 200 Sheds of Hope were built in Moore and the surrounding area and those trailers supported the work. Since that time, the trailer in the picture above has been rolled tens of thousands of miles to transport tools and equipment all over the US, from MI to FL, to CO, to the coast of NC. The fact is she is just a ‘wee-bit’ road weary, so wisely, it it time to retire her from full-time service and hand her over to a church for local and regional service. We give thanks to North TX Presbytery for lending her to us for the last seven years. Many families have been blessed through her service.
The new Sheds of Hope trailers are being custom built for us by Homesteader Trailers in New Tazewell TN. They are identical to the one pictured above, but a ‘wee-bit’ shorter, and can be transported by typical pickup trucks or larger SUVs. Homesteader has been a great ministry partner to MNA Disaster Response over the years, our manufacturer of choice for enclosed work trailers.
Once we receive the trailers MNA Disaster Response staff and volunteers will build-out the insides of each trailer to accommodate the tools and equipment needed to support at least two Sheds of Hope setup teams working in a particular community. When the build-outs are finished the trailers will be stocked with tools and equipment and placed into service.
We love working with high school and college students as well as young adults. They are desirous of serving with Sheds of Hope; however, they typically do not have the basic tools needed to setup a Shed of Hope. With a minimal equipping of tools and supervision even those without prior construction experience can make a tremendous difference while assisting a displaced family. This is the primary use for Sheds of Hope setup trailers – providing the tools and equipment to support setup teams.
Although the funds have been secured that allowed Sheds of Hope to purchase the new trailers, we are seeking additional funding to outfit each trailer with quality tools and equipment at a cost of $10,000 each. Please let us know if you would like to contribute to this need. You can make a contribution to this project by clicking here.
Also, maybe you would like to join the team that has committed to building out the interiors of these trailers. The work will take place at the Rome GA Warehouse and Training Center during July and August. Typically, we can arrange housing for your team while serving with us, just let us know. If you would like to volunteer on this project please contact Mike Kennamer, MNA Disaster Response Warehouse Manager, and begin a conversation by clicking here.
After taking a Covid-19 forced break, Nashville Presbytery resumed (somewhat) tornado relief work this weekend by building Sheds of Hope on disaster-displaced homeowner’s properties. MNA Disaster Response is still subject to a robust-volunteer-mobilization pause, however, we were cautiously able to support the presbytery’s resumption of operations by shipping Sheds of Hope to Nashville to support their work. All of the volunteers were coordinated by the presbytery. We were impressed by their organization, and thankful for the great weather that made the work enjoyable for all who joined in.
City Church of East Nashville (PCA) is located just a few blocks from a major tornado touch-down area. The congregation has been working with affected families since the tornado blew-through, while complying with the pandemic-induced slow down in relief operations. Virginia Carter has been serving as the congregations liaison to MNA Disaster Response and has been a pleasure to work with. She recruited a large number of volunteers from three churches to help setup the Sheds of Hope on Saturday, not a small undertaking by any standard. We are thankful for her organization skills that made the workday a huge success. If you have organized a mission trip, church workday, large gathering, event, etc., you know what I am taking about.
Keith Perry, MNA Disaster Response Specialist, traveled from Melbourne Florida to Nashville to provide construction management to the groups working at four different sites. It is hard to maintain social distancing while doing relief work, but the Nashvillians proved it possible as seen above.
The first four Sheds of Hope were completed by the end of the day, and the homeowners were able to begin moving their recover personal belongings inside, now they can begin repairing their homes.
Betsy Browne and her three adult children stopped by one of the build sites to say hello and encourage the teams. We are so thankful for them and their contribution to this important ministry that John poured six years of his life into. As you may remember, Betsy and John moved to Nashville last year.
Let’s keep praying that ALL the current restrictions will be relaxed soon and that churches can relaunch relief efforts full force, sooner than later. Nashville Presbytery is planning another Saturday Sheds of Hope build soon to help four more families in this same area.
Thanks to Dick Forrester, a Deacon at Lake Oconee PCA, we have refreshed the file download section of Sheds of Hope website. Lake Oconee PCA has a lot of experience pre-building Sheds of Hope, with about 65 builds under their belts. We recently asked Dick to take a look at the files that were hosted on the site and update them, and add a few new files that teams regularly need. We give thanks for our partnership with Lake Oconee PCA and for Dick’s leadership and friendship to MNA Disaster Response and Sheds of Hope.
Click Here to visit the download page. There you will find a number of important user files that are helpful when planning for a new build, budgeting and purchasing materials, pre-building, transporting, and setting-up Sheds of Hope. There is also links to a booklet explaining the benefit of a SmartBench, and a brochure about Sheds of Hope.
Take a look and let us know what you think. As typical, the plans for Sheds of Hope are living documents; we are always improving the plan to reflect our commitment to improving the quality of the Sheds and improving the speed in which we can set-up Sheds on homeowners properties. Updating the ‘files in the computer’ is our effort to give our teams the resources they need to streamline their process.
Dubbed the “The City of Opportunity” at its founding, Seneca SC still claims its title, maybe even more so now than when the city originally chartered in 1874 as “Seneca City’. The city was originally named for a 1700’s Indian village, Esseneca, located on the banks of the nearby Seneca River. Now many, many new opportunities exist to rebuild this community located in the ‘Upcountry’ region of South Carolina. 21 tornadoes swept across the state on Easter Sunday and into the early morning hours of Monday wrecking everything in their paths. Nine people lost their lives in SC and over 1,000 homes have severe damage. The tornado was on the ground for 14 minutes, traveled almost 17 miles, and experts say Its final rating was a high-end EF3.
When the deadly tornado touched down it immediately wrecked the local Borg-Warner automotive parts plant. It is truly amazing that only one person was killed at the plant, a contract security guard. The workers there produce 4-WD transfer cases for Chrysler/RAM, Ford, and Toyota. Those automakers depend on the plant for the major drive-train component for the Ram 1500, Toyota Tundra and Ford F-150, SuperDuty trucks, Expedition, Explorer, Transit van, Lincoln Navigator and Lincoln Aviator. Having the plant out of commission will obviously create a major global ripple effect for these manufacturers unless they can get it back on line quickly, which is unlikely.
Once the rescue workers cleared the area, MNA Disaster Response deployed Sheds of Hope at the request of Crossgate PCA. Calvary Presbytery sent volunteers from as far away as Newberry SC, and Highlands Presbytery volunteers came from Elizabethton TN. Crossgate identified four families that needed storage capacity for their recovered personal belonging during their anticipated arduous rebuilding process, and they received Sheds of Hope on Saturday.
Please keep praying for Seneca and Crossgate PCA, they have a long road ahead, but they are fully committed to restoration. To know more about Crossgate please navigate to https://www.crossgatepca.org. Crossgate will be working with Sheds of Hope in the future, once they are back on their feet, to establish their own Sheds of Hope building team. On the Crossgate PCA home page is a link to donate to the fund that has been established to fund the repairs to both of their pastor’s homes damaged by the tornado.