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Disaster relief teams aid Panola County areas affected by recent tornado

The cavalry is here.

Neighbors and other teams working to help clean-up and assist Panola County residents affected by last weekend’s tornadoes have been out throughout the southern half of the county to lend a hand.

In Antioch, several Beckville High School students were helping Amy Podlewski and her family to clean up a destroyed shop on Thursday and Friday. The students were some of Podlewski’s FFA kids, as well as students who just wanted to help.

“We’re basically cutting out the major i-beams and stuff of the shop that have collapsed on top of stuff, so they’re using a cutting torch,” Podlewski said. “As they pull off the metal and stuff, we’re able to pull out the actual useable tools and stuff like that. So we’re just basically un-bearing everything.”

The Texas Baptist Men Disaster Relief and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief also came with chainsaws this week to help residents and spread the Good Word.

The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention disaster relief team stayed at Still Waters Cowboy Church while they help the area. They have members from all over East Texas and travel nationwide and overseas to help those struck by disaster, team leader Paul Easter said.

“The reason we do it is ‘cause the good Lord sends me and this crew out just to help people,” he said.

The Texas Baptist Men’s group also travels all over the country to help people. On Wednesday, they and the Southern Baptist team were working on Country Road 190 off FM 1971.

“We’re out here, for instance this lady’s house you can see all this brush that’s on here, this was all over her property, all the trees,” Texas Baptist Men’s group leader Bruce Slaven said. “We had to take down two trees. We’re up here taking down hangers so they don’t fall down and fall on somebody right now, that’s with our man lift. ...So we’ll clean it out, and once we’re down with that, we actually present them with a Bible and pray for them and pray with them, so that’s what we’re going to be doing next.”

This work is important because it’s what Christ would have them do, Slaven said.

“We’re out here sharing Christ’s love to these people, and this is the way we can do it,” he said. “These people are hurting. This lady said ‘I don’t know what I was going to do.’ She heard we were out here, and we said ‘hey we would love to come help you.’ So we feel it a privilege to come out here and help people like this, so it blesses us as well as it blesses them, so that’s what we’re doing.”

Panola County establishes emergency operations center for tornado relief
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Panola County has established an emergency operations center to help coordinate disaster relief and response for those affected by the March 27 tornadoes, County Judge LeeAnn Jones said Friday.

The EOC will be based at the Panola County Expo Center and will be operated by East Texas-based Hand Up Network.

Residents who need help with trees, storm damage, etc. are asked to call the emergency contact line at (903) 263-3653 or email HelpPanola@gmail.com. An assessment team will be sent to figure out what volunteer organizations and teams can do.

In addition, the county is asking all volunteers and volunteer organizations to go to the Expo Center for direction, as volunteer activities will be managed by Hand Up Network in coordination with the Panola County Emergency Manager.

Residents who are approached by a volunteer group and who have concerns should contact the EOC immediately, Jones said.

Those wishing to donate supplies are asked to contact the EOC to determine current needs. East Texas Residents interested in donating supplies may also do so at Hand Up Network at 200 N. Beckham, Tyler, TX 75702, (903) 597-5334 or info@HandUpNetwork.com.

Carthage High School welding class finishes Davis Park guardrail project

The Carthage High School welding class worked all year to build guardrails for the Davis Park bathrooms, and on Tuesday morning they installed them.

“The city asked us if we would build this guardrail, and so we did it as a class project,” teacher Jolene Davis said. “We’ve been working on it all year among the other things that we’ve been doing, and today’s the big install day.”

Davis said the class taught students a good trade, and the day was a good learning experience for her students. They also learn other kinds of construction in her class.

“This is great, and this gives them a chance to get out here and see what it’s like doing this stuff out in the field, I mean not everything is available like it is in the shop,” she said. “We’re in a little bit humid conditions, our lenses are fogging up, I mean they get to experience what it’s really like.”