July 1, 2003
PIERCE CITY — Nearly two months after tornadoes devastated areas of southwest Missouri, Southern Baptist volunteers are still working to help with clean-up and rebuilding.
Two disaster relief chain saw teams have been active in the Pierce City area. Their focus has been in the rural areas which received little attention right after the storms. Along with cleaning up debris and downed trees, they have been cleaning out fence rows and rebuilding fences so livestock could be put back where they belong.
Arkansas sent one of their chain saw units to assist the Missouri disaster relief crew from St. Joseph. Together they cleaned out the fence row around the perimeter of a twenty-acre property owned by a man who has multiple sclerosis. They also spent three days helping a man whose physical condition along with health problems in his family prevented him from doing the heavy clean-up work himself. Other land owners worked alongside the volunteers using their own tractors and equipment. The men on these teams had the opportunity to pray with these tornado victims and share Christian literature with them.
While the clean-up crews were busy in the outlying areas, a youth mission group of 21 people from New Hope Baptist Church, Sedalia, was helping build a new church building for the First Baptist Church, Pierce City. The Pierce City church was heavily damaged in the May 4 storm. Before the storm, however, the congregation had already begun construction on a new building. The youth group had already scheduled a mission trip for the week of June 22, but the original plans fell through. Their leaders consulted with Gary Morrow, Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief director, and arranged to spend their week in Pierce City. The young people spent their time digging a ditch around the foundation of the new church building, hanging drywall, and installing insulation.
At the end of the day, the two groups would return to the warehouse in Mount Vernon where they were staying. Previously, the Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief mobile field kitchen operated out of this warehouse.
When the feeding operation ended, the space was available for the chain saw and missions volunteers. They cleaned the floors and partitioned off the floor space for a girls’ dorm and a mens’ dorm. Gary Morrow built several makeshift showers and sinks for them to use.
Each evening devotions were held. The youth were involved in the devotional time giving testimonies, doing skits, and playing instruments.