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Atmore area churches endure storm, give thankscomment (0)

March 27, 2014

By Neisha Fuson

Atmore area churches endure storm, give thanks

A building’s awning is typically thought of as a good thing — something that helps keep visitors protected from the elements as they come and go. But for Canoe First Baptist Church, near Atmore, its awning was the very thing that damaged its building March 16. 

Winds that exceeded 110 mph blew through parts of Alabama, and Pastor Jake Bondurant said it seemed as though his neighborhood had withstood a tornado. His home, undamaged by the storm, is located behind the Escambia Baptist Association church. 

Bondurant, who has served in his first pastoral role at Canoe First for about a year and a half, explained that an awning on the west side of the church was caught by the wind, crumbled and thrown into parts of the roof. The debris left gaping holes in multiple areas with the most severe damage occurring above the sanctuary and the education/youth area. 

Around 8:20 a.m., Bondurant went to check on the building and it was raining heavily. 

“Before I knew it 10 men were there and started working. We had ladders, hammers and nails and tried to patch the holes. ... Sitting on top of a roof can bring folks together in a very special way,” Bondurant said with a laugh. 

It took the group (comprised of church members and a few community members) two hours to patch and cover the holes in the roof. And a few other volunteers came in the afternoon to help clear debris. The church had recently revamped its insurance plan, so all the repairs will be covered, Bondurant said.

Church members gathered in the undamaged fellowship hall for Wednesday night services and plan to meet there for the next several weeks while repairs are made to the sanctuary and the roof is replaced. 

Having never experienced anything like this before, Bondurant, a Florida native, said he’s thankful the damage wasn’t any worse. No church members were injured and most of their homes were undamaged or easily fixable.  

Ironically an awning also was destroyed at Brooks Memorial Baptist Church, Atmore, the same day. Pastor Robert Heard said there also were a few shingles torn off the roof but overall there was minimal damage. 

Two church members’ homes had a tree fall on them so the association’s disaster relief team removed the trees March 16–17. 

Brooks Memorial Baptist members met at the church for evening services March 16 and had a “time of thanksgiving,” Heard said. “There were no injuries or deaths (in the area). It could have been a whole lot worse.” 

Bondurant said he received encouraging calls and emails from Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM), and Mel Johnson, disaster relief strategist for SBOM. 

Bondurant said, “The whole state has been concerned for us; we’re really thankful for that. They’ve been praying for us. It makes me really glad that I live in Alabama and work at a church in Alabama.” 

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