Girard UMC Gives Thanks After the Storm
GIRARD – The Easter service at Girard UMC had a different feeling April 23.
Five days after an EF-3 tornado – winds of 136 to 165 mph – struck portions of Girard, members of the congregation said the destruction and disruption of lives still weigh heavily on their minds. The storm damaged 22 structures and destroyed five homes.
During the April 24 service, several members spoke out, saying they were thankful there had been no deaths and that the damage wasn’t greater.
The Rev. Mary Alice Cunningham prayed for the families and the workers who continue the cleanup. She said she was fortunate her home was not damaged, and that she felt God was speaking to her Tuesday, telling her to make her way to the basement.
“There have been so many times I’ve heard the meteorologists say take shelter and go to the basement, and I haven’t listened to them,” she said.
Girard UMC was one of many area churches that provided meals for hundreds of workers and volunteers.
Mary Ellen Bandy, 87, said she had cooked goulash and picked up some Italian bread. Evelyn Weller, 80, said she had helped pack lunch boxes to send out to crews who were unable to leave cleanup sites.
Cunningham said it has been unbelievable watching the community come together.
“As soon as all this happened, people started stepping up to the plate making sure everyone was OK,” she said. “Even those that had some damage stepped up and went to the families whose homes were completely demolished.”
Kathy Hopkins, associate pastor at First Christian Church and a coordinator of the relief efforts, said volunteers have provided two meals and coffee every day since April 21 for people in need. At one of the 15 cleanup sites, 150 people were fed on that first day, she said.
“The outpouring of the community has been tremendous,” she said. “We’ve been loading up SUV’s and sending out food to different sites.”
(Reprinted with permission from the April 25 issue of the Springfield State Journal-Register)