Highland Tornado Recovery Efforts: Church Back in Business

HIGHLAND, AR (KAIT) -- February 5th, 2008 was a day etched into the minds of many Arkansans. 14 people were killed when a series of tornados ravaged central, northern and northeastern Arkansas.

When it was over, the state was left with billions of dollars in damage.

The city of Highland was one of those places hit hardest by the Super Tuesday storms. Church goers at the 1st Landmark Missionary Baptist Church now have a new place to worship; on the same plot of land the old church was located.

The tornado that hit Highland destroyed two churches, the business district and the Highland Fire Department.

The city has been trying to recover from the storm ever since it dropped from the sky. For parishioners of 1st Landmark Missionary, the storm was an unexpected blessing.

"We're going to make it. Like I said, the building was destroyed but the church was never destroyed and it will be here with God's help," said Deacon Donald Frames.

Frames, who has been a resident of Highland since 1999, said he was at home when he got word of an approaching tornado.

"We were listening to the radio and heard that it had hit Highland. It wasn't long before we got a telephone call from one of our members saying we had lost the church," said Frames.

Frames said the damage to the building was overwhelming at first. The entire building was a loss, and the only way to keep the church going was to rebuild.

"We were sitting there and you can't visualize what kind of terrible loss it is until you see it. We came down the next morning and saw it," said Frames.

However, Frames also said the tornado, which injured two people in Highland, came with an unforeseeable change for 1st Landmark Missionary.

"It was terrible to start with. (There were) terrible emotions that we had, but we had been praying for a new church building for about 4 months. God answered our prayers and we're very fortunate no one was hurt in answering those prayers," said Frames.

"God has been so great to us. People praying for you and the encouragement we got, we serve a great god, we serve a great god," said Frames.

To see information published by the National Weather Service about the Super Tuesday tornados, click here.

"I think our faith is stronger now than it was, because you better be careful what you pray for because you might get it," said Frames.

According to the National Weather Service, the tornado that hit Highland was the longest on record since 1950, churning 122 miles.