Adventist School Hit by Tornado
Cleanup, repairs under way as classes meet in alternate location

leanup and repairs are under way at the George E. Peters Seventh-day Adventist School in Chillum, Maryland, after an April 20 tornado struck the campus, destroying part of the gym and roof and overturning a trailer. The National Weather Service gave the twister a rating of 1 on the Enhanced Fujita scale used for measuring tornados, meaning there was a three-second gust of between 86-110 miles-per-hour.

DESTRUCTION: G.E. Peters school suffered extensive damage after an F1 tornado hit April 20.
[Photo: Celeste Ryan Blyden/Columbia Union]
Classes are now meeting, temporarily, at a nearby early childhood education center. No dollar figure for the damage caused by the tornado was disclosed by regional church officials.

The school shares a campus with the Alleghany East conference’s Metropolitan Seventh-day Adventist Church, which sustained minor damage, and the Chillum Oaks Apartments, a senior housing complex. Though there were people at both of these locations for events, no one was hurt. A science teacher was in the Peters school at the time of the tornado, but was on the opposite side of the building and escaped unharmed, media reports indicated.

"I looked up and saw a table flying through the air and knew something was happening," recalls Adrian Westney, associate director of Religious Liberty for the Columbia Union Conference.

According to reports, local officials said far worse consequences might have resulted had the twister touched down on a school day.

‘‘Had [the tornado] happened one day later we would have been dealing with a severe incident with a number of young children being hurt,” Mark Brady, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County Fire and Emergency Management Services Department, told the Gazette newspaper. ‘‘The timing [of the tornado made] the difference between a catastrophe and just severe damage.”

The G.E. Peters Adventist school, named for a pioneer African-American Seventh-day Adventist leader and former field secretary of the world church, has classes ranging from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. Updates on repairs and information for those wishing to make donations to help rebuild the school can be found online at

                                                            -- Reported by Celeste Ryan Blyden, Columbia Union, with AR staff.

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