COVINGTON — Multiple teams from Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief have converged in Covington to help aid the recovery process after a tornado ripped through the area on Friday night.
The violent storm, which classified as a EF-3 tornado, was responsible for one death and 28 injuries, according the news reports, and left a trail of destruction and devastation in the Covington communities.
Many DR volunteers arrived in Covington over the weekend, although recovery efforts were initially slowed by impassable road conditions and other variables.
Liberty Baptist Church has been designated as “home base” for the DR teams. Bruce Porch, DR director of Woodland Baptist Church, Brownsville, is serving as the DR coordinator for the Covington efforts. Karen Wilson and Tommy Wilson will coordinate the incident command post.
Karen Wilson said that as of Tuesday morning, 25 job orders had been placed.
She noted that the DR volunteers had started working on a few projects as early as Monday — “mostly helping clean the streets,” she said — but noted that the bulk of the work would start on Tuesday.
Karen said that Monday was mainly about “getting everything set up” and also about letting the Covington communities know that the DR teams were there to help.
“We’re trying our best to get the word out,” Wilson said. “We are using Facebook and some radio ads to let people know how they can put in job orders for us.”
Danny Sinquefield, Harvest Field One Team Leader for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, meet with Clay Gilbreath, director of missions for Big Hatchie Baptist Association and some other leaders, including Porch, on Saturday afternoon to began discussions on what could be done to help the community in the days ahead.
Gilbreath told the Baptist and Reflector on Saturday that several factors impacted the recovery process in the early stages.
“There is electricity out everywhere, and that is effecting everyone, of course,” he said. “The communities were hit really hard.”
Sinquefield said it was heartbreaking to see the damage in that area. “From what I’ve seen, it looks like this bad-boy was on the ground for a long time,” he said. “It looks like it came straight down Highway 51 and produced some major, major business damage and home damage.”
Gilbreath said, to his knowledge, only one church in the area — Calvary Baptist — was directly impacted by the storm. “That doesn’t mean that there wasn’t some others,” he said. “But that’s all I’ve heard about so far.”
With the storm leaving the city temporarily impassable, only emergency vehicles were allowed to enter the area on Saturday morning. The City of Covington set up an emergency shelter for displaced families at the Covington Park and Recreation Sportsplex, according to news reports.
Sinquefield visited Covington and Brighton on Saturday to check on the situation there. Sinquefield said he was also attempting to make contact with some “pastor brothers” in Millington and Munford.
“The storm skirted just on the edge of FBC Covington,” Sinquefield said. “Power lines are the real issue right now, and have caused a lot of the roads to be blocked off.” B&R