PITTSTON- According to the Times-Tribune, an EF2 tornado swept through the Pittston Township area bringing 120mph winds and leaving a 12.8- mile path of destruction. The tornado touched down for about 15 minutes and spanned 1500 ft.
State Disaster Relief Director Kenton Hunt immediately contacted Stan Oschman, church planter of PLAID Community Church in Pittston, who agreed to be the coordinator for this Disaster Relief response. Pastor Oschman offered the services of PA/SJ Disaster Relief to township officials. They put him in touch with the Emergency Management Coordinator who accepted his offer to assist the community with cleanup efforts.
A start date was quickly scheduled and Disaster Relief volunteers arrived a few days later. The EM Coordinator escorted each team to the location of their first job. Pastor Oschman arranged the housing along with breakfast and dinner meals for the volunteers at nearby Dallas Baptist Church. The EM Coordinator with the help Pittston Township officials organized and provided volunteer lunches at the local firehall.
The first Disaster Relief team composed of two ladies and eight men was led by Ernie Pyle and included two men from NY/NJ Disaster Relief. They completed chain saw work, tree removal, and yard clean up in wind chill temperatures of -6 degrees for four families. Ernie stated it was a good experience serving the hospitable people of Pittston who worked alongside the volunteers and even bought supplies to help the volunteer teams and provided coffee and donuts. As usual, this response provided a time for bonding amongst the volunteers and sharing their faith with the different families they were ministering to. DR volunteers go the extra mile to show grace and love in action and they clearly felt God’s spirit working through the team.
Four days later, Doug Pilot led a second team of nine who represented four churches from the Conemaugh Valley Association. This group helped homeowners cut up and remove downed trees from the electric line so power could be restored. Township officials were surprised at how quickly the team accomplished the jobs that were assigned to them. This team has worked together on multiple projects before and know each other well and are very productive. Signed Bibles were given to the families and the township employees which evoked an emotional response. Overall it was a great experience for everyone involved and paved some good roads for Pastor Stan to follow up with the members of his community.
Kenton Hunt was thrilled to have Stan Oschman act as the Response Coordinator for the Pittston Tornado Response and hopes that this model will work for future responses in PA/SJ. Pastor Oschman was already on site, was involved during the response and continues to follow up and build relationships with township officials and the people served during the response. This is a hands-on example to the community of Pittston to see love of Christ in action by His local church.
Plaid Community Church has three life groups in the Pittston area and welcomes people to come and visit. More information can be found here.