Beauregard church rebuilt, just like the community two years after deadly tornado

Watoola United Methodist Church
Watoola United Methodist Church((Source: WTVM))
Updated: Mar. 3, 2021 at 11:04 AM CST
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BEAUREGARD, Ala. (WTVM) - Wednesday marks two years since the deadly Lee County tornado that swept through and killed 23 people. A church destroyed in the storm has now been rebuilt, just like the community of Beauregard has rebuilt itself, despite the loss.

Behind the pulpit at Watoola United Methodist Church in Beauregard hangs a cross, draped on worn, wooden slats.

“That’s probably our proudest thing is that cross and that wall that shows God’s love for this place,” Pastor Gary Perry said.

The church, built back in 1905, was destroyed by the EF-4 tornado that ravaged Lee County’s landscape and killed 23 people on March 3, 2019.

“I think that we were probably in shock,” Pastor Perry said.

That cross survived the storm. Those wooden slats did, too, which once were the siding on the historic church.

Now the sanctuary has been rebuilt, an effort Pastor Gary Perry said is an act of God.

“We got calls from New Jersey. We got calls from Maryland. We got calls from Illinois,” he said. “People sent money until God amassed enough money to rebuild.”

And just as Watoola Methodist has been rebuilt, Beauregard residents said their community has been rebuilt as well, now 2 years after the storm.

“Most of these people are starting to get it all together,” Beauregard resident Stanley Kistler said. “Ninety-eight percent of all of the houses have been rebuilt.”

Kislter has been cleaning up debris and helping his neighbors since the day of the tornado. He said his community is right on track.

“The town works good together,” Kistler said. “Everybody out here is friends and neighbors and helps anybody that needs a hand.”

With his congregation once again able to sit in the pews, Pastor Perry said its this resilience and community-mindedness that give him hope, despite the heartache of the storm’s anniversary.

“The spirit of Beauregard has never been broken,” Pastor Perry said. “I look forward to the future of Beauregard because I think it’s got unlimited potential because of what we’ve gone through.”

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