Moultonís Mount Hope becomes beacon after stormscomment (0)
May 17, 2012
By Leigh Pritchett
On April 27, 2011, six people in the Mount Hope area of Lawrence County died. About 30 homes were lost and another 25 were damaged. Twenty-six poultry houses were destroyed, said Jerry Sibley, chairman of deacons at Mount Hope Baptist Church, Moulton, in Muscle Shoals Baptist Association.
“It was very devastating to us as a community,” he said.
But “the community has pulled together. We had a great amount of help,” with neighbor helping neighbor, and Muscle Shoals Association, the military, Emergency Management Agency and Red Cross gave assistance.
People with ties to the Mount Hope area — from Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, Mississippi and Alabama — either sent money or came to offer assistance, Sibley noted, adding that some of the volunteers were directed to other areas of need because there were more than could be used.
Mount Hope Baptist opened its family life center to accept donations for those affected by the storms, and no one seeking assistance was turned away, Sibley said.
The church served meals to families and volunteers for about a month and kept the distribution center open about two months. Many of the volunteers, such as Sibley’s wife, Reba, worked from the beginning to the end.
“We had so many helpers like that,” Sibley said, noting the items left after everyone was served were donated to charity. “The people who we helped were very appreciative.”
Also donated to Mount Hope Baptist to help in the community was about $20,000, Sibley said. “Just last week, we gave the last money out.”
The church tried to assist people on many different levels. As a matter of fact, Sibley chuckled as he said, “I knew every dog’s name in the community.”
In a disaster, “pets are so important,” he explained. “[People] have something to hold on to.”
For that reason, a small gesture, such as providing pet food, becomes a blessing to someone in crisis. So the church helped with that, Sibley said.
The whole experience “was a time of drawing together of [the community],” he noted.
Several weeks ago, about 200 people from a Tennessee church engaged in a sizable project in the Mount Hope area. They repaired homes, trimmed shrubs, built porches, burned debris and did other tasks that had been delayed so that higher priority jobs could be completed. Mount Hope Baptist housed the group.
Sibley said it has been a blessing to be able to help people who were hurting so badly.
“I hope we don’t have to go through it again,” he said. “But God is present, even in those situations.”