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FBC Rainsville pastor, family ‘feel blessed just to be alive’comment (0)

May 5, 2011

By Gary Hardin

Mark and Wendy Whittaker picked through the rubble of their home April 28. Fellow church members from First Baptist Church, Rainsville, in DeKalb Baptist Association, assisted their church’s minister of music and youth in the cleanup.

The Whittaker’s home was among hundreds of homes and buildings destroyed or badly damaged when the April 27 tornadoes created a half-mile swath of destruction that extended from DeKalb County into Georgia. At press time, 35 fatalities, and more than 100 injuries, resulted from the storms in DeKalb County. The town of Rainsville appeared to have been the hardest hit community in DeKalb County.

The Whittakers were eating dinner at the home of friends when a tornado destroyed their house. “We feel fortunate that we had been invited to eat dinner at another home, otherwise, we would be dead,” Wendy said.

The Whittakers weren’t the only family from First, Rainsville, to lose their home. The home of deacon Eddie Garrett, and his wife, Daphne, received significant damage. Just moments before the tornado struck, the Garretts, and their two sons, had taken refuge in the storm shelter they had built less than eight years ago.

“Other people have lost everything. We feel blessed just to be alive,” Daphne whispered. Eddie agreed. “It’s just stuff,” he said.

Plainview High School and the DeKalb County Coliseum, both in Rainsville, also received severe damage. At press time, DeKalb authorities were still in the process of searching houses and areas that were damaged, looking for people who may have been unaccounted for or trapped underneath rubble.

The day after the Rainsville tragedy, youth from First, Rainsville, provided food and drinks at the church for anyone needing it. Josh Clifton, a member of the church, said, “All this bad news just hasn’t sunk in yet.”

Twenty miles north in Valley Head, a tornado blew away the fellowship hall of Stamp Missionary Baptist Church, in Sand Mountain Baptist Association. Tornado damage was also reported in the DeKalb County communities of Henegar and Ider.

In nearby Cherokee County, the major portion of the roof of New Bethel Baptist Church, Centre, a part of Cherokee Baptist Association, was blown off by the early morning straight-line winds April 27. “We will rebuild as quickly as we can,” said Brett Clements, the church’s pastor.

West of Centre, the Goshen community was ravaged by a tornado that touched down less than two miles from the site of a deadly twister on Palm Sunday in 1993.

Remarkably, only one person was injured in Cherokee County, although residents awoke on Thursday to the news they would be without electricity for up to 10 days due to a wind-destroyed Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) transmission line at the TVA’s nuclear plant at Widows Creek, near Stevenson.

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