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Last Updated April 26, 2016
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Thank You God Rally
shows spirit of tornado survivors
BY KEITH HUFFMAN AND
DOUG SANDERS JR.
Correspondents

ALICEVILLE | Testimonies of disaster, faith and survival were shared by Pickens Countians to a large crowd of people from multiple Pickens County communities and churches during a Thank You God Rally at Aliceville First Baptist Church on the night of Monday, April 18. The event recognized current and ongoing recovery within the Sapps community following the aftermath of the Feb. 2 tornado.
Having swept through the southwestern and central parts of Pickens County, the Groundhog Day EF-2 tornado damaged many homes and the administration building of the federal prison in Aliceville. Despite such destruction and devastation, sincere expressions of faith and gratitude for a unified community were emphasized during last week’s rally.
“HE DELIVERED US”
While reflecting on his experience during the storm, Sapps community resident Bobby Wilkins recalled how Feb. 2 had initially been “a beautiful day” before news reports warned of impending bad weather. As the storm approached, Wilkins remembered how he, his wife and their two-year-old granddaughter took shelter in the hallway of their home. As they sat together, Wilkins said heavy rain and hail began to fall, and the wind blew strongly.
“Sitting there in that hallway, you could hear the force of that wind get stronger and stronger and stronger,” he recalled. “And then we heard crackling, popping sounds… And we’re sitting there, and I remember something hitting me on the head. Thank goodness for a hard head.”
Within five to 10 minutes of being in the hallway, Wilkins said the storm had passed. He remembered feeling “a rushing wind from… [his] left side,” and, afterward, the strong winds subsided and the rain returned. Uncovering himself, he asked his wife if she was okay. After hearing her say that she was, Wilkins said he glanced about and remarked, “The roof is not here…. The home is destroyed.”
Wilkins further recalled how his neighbors hurried over to verify his family’s safety. He also remembered how Aliceville Police Chief Tonnie Jones (who is also a minister at Mt. Hebron Baptist Church) remarked to him, “I stood there and looked at your home and said, ‘If anyone is in there, there are no survivors.’” Wilkins then noted how Rev. Jones had likewise informed him that after he, his wife and granddaughter had emerged among the destruction, Rev. Jones had said, “Thanks be to God.”
“The testimony that I have today is that I really don’t have to ask the Hebrew boys, I really don’t have to ask Daniel when he was in the lion’s den,” Wilkins said, “because the same God that delivered them … on that day, He delivered us, Feb. 2, 2016.”
To applause, Wilkins declared, “God is still good.”