The Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association (SDEA) is recovering from an EF1 tornado that directly struck the organization's new headquarters in Homewood with 100-plus mph winds early Sunday morning.
The headquarters, donated in full in August to founder and CEO Scott Dawson and his ministry, is worth more than $10 million and has sustained damage thought to be north of seven figures, according to a news release from SDEA.
Dawson estimated more than 80 windows were blown out of the 203,511-square-foot building, with SDEA having just moved in two to three weeks before this weekend's storm.
"It's like a rocket went through the fifth floor," Dawson said in a statement. "It was a direct hit."
Dawson said there was also damage to siding on the building and water damage inside, but thankfully, the primary interior areas hit by the tornado were areas that had not yet been renovated.
Dawson said his team have been working steadily with local officials, companies and vendors to implement a recovery plan.
"It was impressive to see 17 ServPro trucks entering our campus by 1 p.m.," Dawson said. "By sunset, we had already conducted meetings with our insurance company and a remediation company, and I had spoken to other pastors and nonprofit leaders who had walked through similar situations. We are so thankful that we planned for the unimaginable. We have a great insurance company and are confident that we will come out of this stronger and more effective. The campus is secured and will be completely waterproofed by the end of the week through ServPro."
SDEA staff will be working in temporary offices until a structural engineer surveys the building later this week, Dawson said.
There will be unbudgeted out-of-pocket expenses that will be inconvenient, but Dawson said he is thankful to have so many faithful supporters of the ministry. Dawson said he first and foremost views this as a spiritual issue because of the way God has been working through the SDEA. The ministry has seen more people come to know Christ this year than any year since it was founded 36 years ago and trained more students in evangelism and registered more students for the upcoming winter conferences than ever before. More than 15,000 students are scheduled to be at the Strength to Stand conferences in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., in December and January.
"Satan is not happy," Dawson said. "I am asking you to pray with us to stay focused on the gospel during this distraction. We will continue to operate and go forward reaching this generation for Christ!"
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