(This story has been updated 4/14/2020 at 8:05PM EST.)
At least nine people are dead and 150 injured after an EF-3 tornado ripped through southeastern Tennessee and northern Georgia late Easter Sunday night and early Monday morning. Among the the scores of buildings damaged or destroyed by the storm around Chattanooga, TN was the Masonic hall of Brainerd Lodge 736.
There is no word yet whether anyone from the lodge was injured by the storms. Early photos of the damage were posted Monday on the Grand Lodge of Tennessee's Masonic Museum Facebook page. Given that it struck in the wee hours on a Sunday night, and that everyone is currently required to stay home under the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown across the state, it's certainly unlikely anyone was in the building.
An estimated 150 buildings were damaged or destroyed by the storm.
According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, at least two people died in Hamilton County, Tennessee, including one man who was killed by a tree that fell on him as he slept. At least seven people lost their lives in Murray County, Georgia. During a Monday afternoon news conference, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said the path of the wreckage in Hamilton County was about a half-mile wide and four miles long.
Brainerd Lodge 736 in better days. According to the lodge cornerstone, their present hall was dedicated in 1986. It is also the home of Order of the Eastern Star Sunnyside Chapter 359.
UPDATE 4/14/20 at 8:05PM EDT:
The following message was posted Tuesday evening on Facebook:
Brainerd Masonic Lodge #736 and Sunnyside Chapter #359 was in the path of the Sunday night tornado that hit the East Brainerd area of Chattanooga. The lodge building took a significant hit. The building is structural[ly] unsafe and will be torn down and replaced. Fortunately most of the furnishings and historical items of the lodge and chapter was saved. We are already in the process of removing and storing such items. There are many memories of both the lodge and the chapter that we all share across the state.
We had no loss of lives of our membership . We do have some that have had damages to their homes. Please keep these members in your prayers as they move forward each day in repairing their homes and their lives. We ask for your prayers as we go forth as a lodge and chapter working together to get us back into our lodge/chapter home and be able to invite you back into our home.
Information will be forthcoming with the location where we will be meeting when the information is available. We will be seeing you across the state during this building process.
Past Grand Patron
Brainerd Lodge #736