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‘Tears were shed’: Church members among dead, wounded in small Alabama town

A church van rests amid debris after a tornado heavily damaged the Hackleburg Church of Christ building in Alabama. (Photo by Patrick Flanagan)

In the small town of Hackleburg, Ala., more than two dozen people died April 27 as a tornado destroyed the only grocery store, schools, the police station, the fire department and homes.
Winds stronger than 200 mph ripped away the front of the Hackleburg Church of Christ building and ravaged the foundation, walls and roof, minister Mike Lane said.
The building appears to be a total loss, Lane said.
“I don’t know whether we can salvage the pews or not,” he added.
Lane and his wife, Betty, hid in a closet in their house about three blocks from the church.
“It’s the only place in the house where we could have survived it,” the minister told The Christian Chronicle. “My wife got a broken clavicle. I got bruised up pretty badly. Other than that, I’m in pretty good shape.”

Cases of bottled water sit outside the Hackleburg Church of Christ building in Alabama in the wake of the April 27 tornado. (Photo by Patrick Flanagan)

Bridget Renee Barnwell Brisbois, 34, a member of the Hackleburg church, died in the storm, Lane said. Her son, Mitchell, less than a month old, was with his grandparents and survived.
That Sunday, church members — including a half-dozen or more families who lost homes — gathered for a short worship assembly outside the devastated building.
“Tears were shed,” Lane said. “I spoke some encouraging words. It was the beginning of the healing process.”
The Hackleburg storm was part of a swath of twisters April 27 that killed about 350 people and injured thousands more across seven states.
To help: Hackleburg Church of Christ, P.O. Box 176, Hackleburg, AL 35564.
See other Chronicle coverage of the April 27 tornadoes.

  • Feedback
    As the Scriptures say, “He causes the rain to fall on the Just and Un-just”.
    My favorite chapter in the New Testament is Philippians 4, and it gives me a great deal of strength and hope. While we mourn for those lost, hurt with those injured, and thankful for those who were not harmed; it is also an opportunity to “live Christ”.
    There are so very many who have been hurt, lost homes, jobs, and even the most basic neccesities for their way of living. And it will be more than giving a few dollars to the disastor response groups. Those with ability can give their time and “sweat” to help with clean-up and rebuilding.
    Thanks to the CC for it’s reporting of our Family who have been lost and hurting.
    May the Lord comfort and strengthen all those affected by this disastor
    Paul Johnson
    May, 4 2011

    Speaking for the South Charleston, WV Church of Christ, our prayers are with you in your terrible losses. May god strengthen and comfort you.
    Louis watts
    May, 4 2011

    Mike Lane, would you please call me. I think we can help. George at Summit
    george Faull
    May, 4 2011

    For all those who have donated or helped in the Hackelburg or any area affected by the storms…Thank You!!! For all those (like myself) who have been overwhelmed/frustrated by the endless supply of stuff and workers or you have been frustrated in your attempts to bring supplies or volunteers, take a moment to read John 6.1-13 and pay special attention to verse 13. Aren’t you glad we need the baskets this time too?
    Nick Jones
    May, 4 2011

    We in Cape Town South Africa, cannot imagine what it is like to experience these natural disasters because because the nearest we get to that is rain, thunder and lightening.
    Our prayers are with you Ps.93:4 “the floods have lifted up, O Lord.
    What a mighty God we serve. Those who put their trust in Him have no fear.
    Matt.28:20 “…and Lo, I am with you Always even to the end of the age.
    In His service,
    Mervyn Pasqualle, minister at Eastridge Church of Christ.
    Mervyn Pasqualle
    May, 5 2011

    I live near the town of Eclectic, which was the hardest hit in my immediate vicinity, and heard yesterday that Hackleburg hasn’t had a lot of outside volunteer assistance. Is there anything that your neighbors from this area can do to help? I haven’t been able to find anyone that can put me in touch with efforts to assist your area. If anyone has contact information, can you please share? I am praying for comfort and healing for all affected by the tornadoes and praising God for being so blessed and having the ability to help someone else where needed. I can be reached at [email protected].
    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
    Love in Christ,
    Rachael Chambers
    May, 5 2011

    would like to bring church group to help at hackleburg. who do I contact.
    May, 8 2011

    Mike, I thought I remembered you are there. We are sending some financial help, wish it could be more. We love you and pray for all of you.
    Ewell D. Pritchett
    May, 31 2011

Filed under: Breaking News News Extras

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