May 23, 2005
Hallam is recovering from 2004 Spring tornadoes
The United Church of Christ sent $3,000 from the One Great Hour of Sharing, Emergency USA special fund to the UCC Nebraska Conference last year to assist with immediate relief needs following the tornadoes that struck last May. This first anniversary shows the commitment of the people of Hallam to recovering their lives.
The oldest resident of this small, southeastern Nebraska town is happy in her new home – but there's still one thing missing. "She looks out her front window and sees an empty church lot," said the Rev. Dan Davis, pastor of Hallam Congregational United Church of Christ (HCUCC). "She says her life will be complete again when the church is there."
Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of the devastating tornado that ripped through Hallam, destroying that resident's home, Davis' church, and most of the town. "I'd say about 95% of the town was destroyed," said Davis. "It was the largest tornado ever recorded in the U.S."
By largest, Davis refers to the twister's width, which the National Weather Services says was 2.5 miles wide at one point during its 62-mile journey across southeast Nebraska. The F4 leveled homes and businesses across the region.
Hallam United Methodist Church (HUMC) was destroyed that stormy Saturday evening as well, and the majority of both church's membership either saw their homes destroyed or suffer significant damage.
A year later, the tornado's power still remains clear in Hallam.
"In tangible terms, the landscape of the entire town has completely changed," Davis said. "There are no trees left in town. Lawns are filled with glass and rocks, and pieces of steel. There are still some cleanup needs that we're going to have to be dealing with over the long haul."
Irene Severin, a member of HCUCC, agreed. "Hallam still looks pretty bleak. We've lost many of our landmarks. You always knew to turn at the Methodist church or so-and-so's house to get somewhere, but they all blew away."
But the positive is that new homes are popping up around town – as many as 70 have been rebuilt in the past year.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
1. Pray for people who live in communities affected by severe storms.
2. To help those affected by disasters you may, send gifts made out to your UCC Conference and marked in the memo portion "Emergency USA" to the Conference Office with a note asking them to send the gifts to the Office for Global Sharing of Resources; Wider Church Ministries; 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115.
3. Send gifts, made out to Wider Church Ministries and marked in the memo portion "Emergency USA" to the Office for Global Sharing of Resources; Wider Church Ministries; 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115.
4. Make a secure on-line donation now to Emergency USA.