Pastor and family weather two twisters - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Pastor and family weather two twisters

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February 21, 2008

Albany -- 
A South Georgia man believes in weather radios, after he survived two deadly tornadoes. Harris Malcolm's home was destroyed by the 2000 Camilla tornado.

Then, seven years later, the church he pastored in Americus was hit by one. In both cases Malcolm said he had no warning, but now he vows to never be caught off guard again.

Baptist Minister Harris Malcolm says people laugh at his tornado history; he survived two of the deadliest storms in South Georgia history.

 "I was known during that time after 2000 as the Disaster Pastor."

Malcolm looks through the scrapbook of the tornado that killed 13 people in Camilla on Valentine's Day, 2000.

Malcolm, his wife, and daughter were asleep when the tornado roared into the Royal Heights subdivision where they lived, but his wife awoke just in time. "If it hadn't been for her, we'd have been dead."

As trees smashed through their roof, they hid under a mattress.  "We probably had about 15 to 20 seconds to get in the hallway, and get our daughter," Malcolm said.

The storm produced a cross made by pine branches sticking through his roof.

Then March 1st, 2007 Malcolm had just retired as the pastor of Central Baptist Church in Americus when a tornado destroyed much of the city, killing 2 people. Again he had no warning. The church sustained damage. "My Pastor said, do these things follow you?" Malcolm said.

After two tornadoes, Malcolm said he looks at weather much more seriously. "Now when bad weather stirs up, we have a weather radio. If it doesn't come on by itself, we cut it on. And we listen."

Now with the Georgia Baptist Convention in Albany, part of Malcolm's job is helping with disaster relief efforts, and he says his family stays ready.

 "We have a plan. We never had a plan before. We have a plan. If bad weather comes we know where we are going to go and hunker down."

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