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Sand Mountain Baptists coordinate tornado rebuildcomment (0)

June 12, 2008

By Megan Norris Jones

It’s been a long road to recovery for people in the Sand Mountain area since a tornado swept through in early February, destroying homes and businesses. But thanks to churches from around the community, the state and the South, new buildings are rising from the wreckage.

David Patty, director of missions for Sand Mountain Baptist Association, has been leading the effort to rebuild homes destroyed by the storm. He’s part of a disaster relief program designed to respond to emergencies around the state and nation, but this crisis hit closer to home and has required sustained commitment in the four months since the storm struck.

"We try to minister to everybody the best we can, whether it’s local or away," Patty said.

The association is currently working on 14 homes with the goal of getting them walled and roofed by the end of the summer.

The rebuilding effort is coordinated through a 10-person task force made up of local pastors, disaster relief team members, representatives from Constructors for Christ, the president of the local Rosalie Community Center and a representative from Sand Mountain Association.

In addition, Patty meets weekly with the director of the Jackson County Emergency Management Agency and representatives from The Salvation Army, the Red Cross, the United Methodist Church’s Upper Sand Mountain Parish and the community center.

According to Patty, the Methodist group does the "case management," while Sand Mountain Association does the "production management."

"It’s wonderful to see all the different groups, agencies and organizations working together to make sure the families are receiving the various kinds of help they need," he said.

Two of the families receiving help are Russell and Donna Carlin and their daughter and son-in-law, Erica and Gary Shavers. They both lost their homes in the tornado. The Carlins also lost their appliance repair business.

"Had it not been for the Sand Mountain Baptist Association, the volunteer groups, we would not have a home right now," Donna Carlin said as a group of volunteers was helping to Sheetrock the house.

Carlin and her husband work alongside the volunteers and then continue in the evenings in a push to get the house completed within the next month.

"Our goal is to get all of our family under one roof," she said.

Volunteer groups coming in from across the state and region are being hosted free of charge at Camp ToknowHim in Pisgah.

The community center provides lunch each day for all workers, and Baptist churches in the area provide dinner for workers staying at the camp.

Patty said he has seen God at work throughout the rebuilding process.

"It’s amazing to watch everything come together," Patty said. "When we’ve needed the people, people come. When we need money, money is there. We don’t have any excess, but we have what we need."

One thing the rebuilding effort is still in need of is skilled volunteers, specifically Sheetrock hangers and finishers, plumbers and electricians.

For more information, call Patty at 256-451-3750.

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