FREDERICKTOWN – A band of storms marched across Missouri on Sunday evening, Oct. 24, as many Missouri Baptists were heading to Branson for the MBC Annual Meeting. The storms intensified as they went across the Ozarks in a northeasterly direction.
In the Madison County town of Fredericktown, population 3,999, the storm turned into what was reported as an EF-3 tornado with winds of 140 MPH. While no injuries were reported, there was extensive damage to homes and businesses in the area.
Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief (DR) workers were dispatched to the area by the MBC DR officials.
Assessors quickly concluded there would be a need for chain saw recovery teams as well as several other teams to support the volunteers and give aid to the storm survivors. There were damages in Fredericktown, Farmington, Coffman and St. Mary.
Missouri DR Director Gaylon Moss said, “These late season storms remind us of the need to be prepared. I’m thankful there were no serious injuries or fatalities. I am so grateful for the quick response of Missouri Baptist DR volunteers. Their readiness was evident in this response.”
DR officials said there were seven teams who responded with a total of 122 volunteer days, 1,067 work hours, 93 ministry contacts. They worked at three different Multi-Agency Resource Centers (MARC) to serve survivors, and completed 28 chainsaw jobs.
DR chaplains Bill Brammer and Gina Mabery served at some of the sites as chaplains and were able to encourage and pray with many of the survivors.
Brammer is from Potosi and is the interim pastor of First Baptist Church, De Lassus, located near Farmington. He said He was able to visit with quite a few storm survivors at the MARC facilities.
“The tornado was narrow. It missed several towns but hit out in the countryside.” He said some of the houses “exploded” when the twister hit them. He had heard that there were three different tornadoes but wasn’t sure if that was confirmed.
Coffman Baptist Church, located near Farmington, had windows blown out and sustained damages to the church structure. Their fellowship hall was destroyed. However, Chaplain Brammer reported that when the storm passed it was discovered that a table with Sunday school papers on it was sitting near a window relatively untouched. Ten of their church members rode the storm out in the basement of the church.
Toby Tucker served as the incident commander for part of the recovery effort. He said several crews helped with clean up in the region. Some of the damage was out in the countryside as well as in the four towns. Chain saw recovery teams were busy. Teams finished their work on Monday, Nov. 8.
One of the homes they worked on was owned by a lineman for an electric company. He had just finished working out in the region repairing downed power lines. His father came up and thanked the crews for their work on his downed trees. He said they are Baptists. The father said, “When my son retires he hopes to get involved in DR work.”
Tucker said he felt blessed that there were no fatalities or serious injuries, only physical damage.