Baptist men clear tornado damage

Disaster relief ministry dispatches volunteers to Elm City

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ELM CITY — Tonya Hines wasn’t sure how she was going to cut up the large trees blown down in her yard by the tornado that touched down Monday.

“I am wondering how am I going to get this out of here?” Hines said. “I don’t know how else I was going to get it done?”

She was thrilled when a team of volunteers from the North Carolina Baptist Men’s Disaster Relief Recovery Team and Rebuilding Hope Ministries knocked on the door and offered to remedy the situation Thursday.

Armed with chainsaws and heavy equipment, the workers cut large tree trunks and hauled off limbs and debris to clear the lawn in front of Hines’ home and many other homes in the community affected by the storm.

Mike Anders of Wilson, a member of Forest Hills Baptist Church, leads the Wilson County chapter of North Carolina Baptist Disaster Relief.

“This is something that each one of these individuals are called to do,” Anders said. “They volunteer their time. We are blessed to do it but we hope we are a blessing because we sure do get one in return.”

About 22 people from Wilson, Stantonsburg, Winterville and Henderson joined forces Thursday to work in Elm City.

Anders has been with the organization since 1984 and has traveled from one end of the country to the other helping people affected by severe weather.

“I have been through Andrew, Hugo, multiple tornadoes, Katrina and all the hurricanes in Florida,” Anders said. “I have spent a long time in a lot of different storms.”

Anders had a flooring business for 41 years and retired in February.

“It allowed me to devote more time volunteering and helping my brothers and sisters out when they are in need,” Anders said.

Eddie Burroughs of Stantonsburg brought his four children, Caleb, Lydia, Hannah and Sarah, to help out.

“We have been trimming up the trees, cutting up some of the smaller trees with the chainsaw and dragging them to the side of the road so the city or the state can come by and pick them up,” Burroughs said. “The need is great. We also do it to be able to share Jesus Christ with the community and those around us.”

Burroughs had a hard time getting out of Stantonsburg on Thursday as the community still has flooding issues.

“I live off of (N.C.) 58, so when we were coming in, it was flooded there right at the county line,” Burroughs said. “We had to drive all the way into Eureka and then come around and get here from there just to get around the flooding.”

For Hines, it was great to get some assistance from the volunteers.

“I am very thankful and appreciative of what they are doing to help,” Hines said.

The storm is still fresh in her mind days after the winds have died down.

“It is still kind of nerve-racking that I actually went through it,” Hines said. “It is only me and my 10-year-old son that were here. I snatched him out of the bed and we ran to the hallway closet. We just looked at the movie ‘Twister’ over the weekend.”

Hines opened the closet door during the storm and saw a lot of things flying past and heard a lot of booms.

“We were thinking, ‘What if the top comes off?” Hines said. “I was holding the door. I was on the phone with my daughter and we were just praying and crying until it was over. My adrenaline finally just started coming down this morning.”