By , May 8, 2003

Sunday, May 4, 2003 was a beautiful day. The sun was high and bright in the sky throughout the entire day. Shortly after the evening worship service, Richard Felts, Pastor of Parkway Church of God, was sitting in his office reflecting on the events of the day. Suddenly, it sounded as though the church was coming under attack! Hail began pounding the church and the cars left in the parking lot. Trees began to bend and snap like twigs. Everyone ran for cover!
When everything settled down, the community of Jackson, TN and Madison County had been devastated by a tornado that cut a 65-mile path. The Police Department, Post Office, Federal Building and several churches and historical sites had been destroyed. Hundreds of homes were completely destroyed or severely damaged. Commercial buildings and manufacturing plants had been utterly destroyed. Electricity, water and telephone services, including cell phone, was non-existent. In a few short minutes, Madison County and Jackson was turned into a large debris field.

As Monday morning dawned, the news of destruction had taken a human toll. Fourteen lives were confirmed dead and four were missing. More than 27,000 homes were without power and water and many communities were accessible only by four wheelers. City and county officials were faced with utility services being cutoff for seven to ten days. In fact, some isolated areas have not been accessed by Emergency Services.

As early morning gave way to mid-morning, Operation Compassion had all ready assessed the emergency relief need and had a semi truck loaded with blankets food and water headed to Jackson. Pastor Richard Felts, serving as Field Coordinator for Operation Compassion, had secured a donated warehouse that was left untouched by the tornado. This warehouse, donated by Tim Smith, owner of Hub Express Warehouse Distribution, will serve as the distribution center for the local relief effort, including local vehicles for distribution.

Madison County Mayor Jerry Gist and Jackson Mayor Farmer closed the area to everyone but emergency personnel. Working with the Mayor’s office, Pastor Felts was able to tour all the affected areas in order to organize volunteers to help supply families with the necessities. Because of the dire need for fresh drinking water, the Red Cross was requesting water from Operation Compassion.

Currently, Operation Compassion and its partners have committed to send five semi trucks loaded with blankets, water, food, hygiene articles and diapers. The need in Jackson and Madison County is great. There are many that have lost everything. Genevieve Dunaway has two children on breathing machines. Without power, her children struggle to breathe. Yet, this little family was turned away at emergency shelters because they are not equipped to handle special needs.

During the next several days, weeks and months ahead, Operation Compassion has pledged to be in Jackson and Madison County serving this devastated community in any manner possible. Such a massive relief and recovery effort will take the partnerships of many across the country. Operation Compassion would like to include you this relief effort.

Financial donations can be sent to our offices (address below) and any donations of large quantities of product, such as water, diapers, food, hygiene articles or similar products, please call our office for information.

Operation Compassion
Dr. John D. Nichols, President
David Lorency, International Director
Tim Burdashaw, International Operations Coordinator

114 Stuart Road, NE Suite 370
Cleveland, TN 37312
423.728.3932 Office
423.728.3958 Fax

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