The Salvation Army of Hopkinsville, Ky., takes hit when tornadoes strike community

By: David Ibata

Five EF-1 tornadoes swept through the Hopkinsville, Kentucky, area, and a downburst – a powerful blast of wind – hammered the city Jan. 11.

No serious injuries were reported, but The Salvation Army offices sustained damage: The wall over the front door partially buckled, and bricks rained down on the stoop. For a time, the offices, in a former house, were unsafe and unusable.

“Praise God, nobody was here and nobody was hurt,” said Major Jose Marquez, Hopkinsville corps officer. “We were told that the storm shifted the building, and that caused some of the bricks to fall and damage to the interior as well.”

The storms also seriously damaged a local senior citizens center, took the roof off a former elementary school now owned by a church, and knocked out power to 80 percent of Hopkinsville Electric System customers, according to local news reports.

Major Marquez was out of town with youth at a divisional music rehearsal and returned Saturday afternoon. By then, Captain Candi Marquez, corps cadets and men’s club members had cleaned up and secured the damaged structure, and social service staff had moved office equipment to the corps building and worship center next door.

“I can’t brag enough about our staff, being flexible to move from one building to another,” Major Marquez said.

The corps continues to see people, providing clothing vouchers from its thrift store and letting shelter clients meet with case workers. (Food distribution and a soup kitchen operate out of another building and were not affected by the storm.)

“We are using the Sunday school room and lobby to see clients,” Major Marquez said. “When people come in, they got to see our sanctuary, and we can explain to them that The Salvation Army is a church.”

Emergency repairs have been made, and dangerous areas cleared so parts of the office could reopen. Repairs are ongoing.

Prayers are always appreciated, Major Marquez said. “Just pray for our community in general and for our shelter residents and the people we provide services to, and for our congregation and our ministry here. My wife and I are blessed to be serving with a wonderful staff and wonderful volunteers and board members. We are grateful to God for his love and this amazing corps and community!”