Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tornado kills Eastern Star sister in Arkansas

The powerful thunderstorms that had my son and me in my basement playing cards by candlelight Friday evening pummeled north Georgia as far south as Atlanta, but didn't produce any major damage here even though we were under tornado warnings for hours.

But those same storm cells reeked havoc a day earlier as they passed through Arkansas.

A brother from Arkansas sent in these reports on Saturday and Sunday:
Last night (April 9, 2009), a tornado struck the town of Mena, in western Arkansas, devastating a large part of the town. One of the buildings that was apparently destroyed was Dallas Lodge #128, which was located at 1601 Hamilton Street.

As I understand it, the lodge was a cinder block building, and it was razed to the foundation while an Eastern Star meeting was in progress. One survivor said that about 20 people had been inside the building, but no word has yet been released about the total number of casualties.

It's probably safe to assume that all of the participants were injured, and it's very likely that some may have been killed. The most recent reports from the area say that at least one person has been confirmed dead, while more than 20 are reportedly injured, but it will be after daylight before a complete assessment of the damage can be made.

By all accounts, it would appear that a lot of people in Mena, Arkansas, could use some relief right now. I have no idea if the Masonic fraternity will attempt any sort of organized relief effort, but if they do, I presume donations would be accepted through the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, Most Worshipful Brother Ronnie Hedge, Grand Master.

Their contact information is available at the following link:


His follow-up a day later reads:
The latest word I've heard is that three people were killed by the tornado in Mena, but only one of those deaths occurred in the Masonic lodge. Apparently, a 70-year-old woman there was crushed beneath rubble of the building.

I haven't heard of any Masonic relief efforts, but the Shriners at Scimitar Temple in Little Rock have made the local news repeatedly seeking contributions for their efforts to assist the victims, presumably Masonic and otherwise.
The Press Association ran a story about the Mena tornado, but did not mention the Masonic lodge.

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