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Spirits Unbroken in Wake of Tornadoes, Says PBA Professor

July 6, 2011

In Alabama and across much of the South, April 27, 2011 was a devastating day. Powerful storms and tornadoes ripped through the region leaving behind hundreds of dead and injured and a trail of wind-ravaged destruction. Tuscaloosa, Ala. was hardest hit.

Scene of destruction in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, after a tornado roared through in the Spring 2011. PBA Assistant Professor John Sizemore went there to help. Click the photo to view a video created by Sizemore.
Click the photo above to view a video created by PBA Assistant Professor of Journalism John Sizemore during his trip to aid tornado victims in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

John Sizemore, an assistant professor of Journalism at Palm Beach Atlantic University, and a member of Community of Hope in Loxahatchee, Florida, had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to Tuscaloosa. The trip was spearheaded by Samaritan's Purse -- a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization, which promotes the Gospel worldwide, and provides emergency relief programs. It is run by the Rev. Franklin Graham, son of legendary evangelist Billy Graham.

"Samaritan's Purse had an open invitation for churches to participate in the relief effort," said Sizemore. "There were actually so many who wanted to volunteer, it was several weeks before we left for Alabama."

Sizemore and two other church members were in Tuscaloosa June 12-18. He saw first-hand battered and destroyed homes and businesses. But among the acres and even many square miles of shattered debris, what he did not find was broken spirits.

"It was encouraging to meet people of faith who lost their homes and possessions, yet continue to trust in God," said Sizemore. "And so many of the volunteers I met were hard-working salt-of-the-earth people."

Sizemore also was encouraged by his time with Samaritan's Purse. "I was impressed with Samaritan's Purse, they identified people who really needed help, and were well prepared," he said.

A former reporter, photographer, columnist, bureau manager and editor, Sizemore utilized his multiple skills to create a video of his team's time in Tuscaloosa. "We wanted to bring back a report to the church of our experience," he said.

Sizemore hopes for PBA journalism students to be able to do similar documentation of experiences in the form of internships with organizations such as Samaritan's Purse. "Stories like these need to be told."


07/2011General News


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