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Community cleans up after storms

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

It has been a multiple-day project cleaning up limbs and other debris from strong winds that came through Chilton County on April 19.

Community members and teams coordinated by the Chilton Baptist Association have volunteered to help neighbors pick up the pieces.

Local business owner Jerry (JJ) Martin was especially grateful to Tucker and Tanner Bean and their cousins Logan and Luke Mitchell for helping him remove debris from Market 31.

The morning after the storms came through, Martin had gone to check on his business. The roof had blown off and a lean-to next to the building was blown across the road.

“It was destroyed,” Martin said. “We had plenty of water damage. That’s what happened, then I had some fellows come to my rescue.”

The Beans and Mitchells spent at least three days moving debris and removing things that could be salvaged to dry out.

“It was so generous of them to give back to their community by the service they provided me,” Martin said. “I am just so appreciative.”

An inspector for Alfa Insurance has already been out to the site. Martin said the company has been helpful and responsive during this time.

Alabama Power has also been working nearby to deal with downed power lines.

Teams coordinated by Joe Mims and the Chilton Baptist Association have been working in Thorsby, Collins Chapel, Jemison and Clanton.

Mims said many of the members are over 60 years of age and at a higher risk of COVID-19.

“They know the risk of getting out and helping, but they understood the need, and they made the conscious decision to go help,” Mims said.

The team has put tarps on homes that sustained roof damage, moved downed trees and removed other debris.

“Farmhouse Cafe has fed our guys every day, and we really appreciate it,” Mims said.

The Alabama State Baptist Convention has sent several teams to the area, including teams from Selma, Cahaba Valley, Butler, Elmore County and Shelby County. The Chilton County teams include about 26 people.

“These guys love what they are doing,” Mims said. “It’s a ministry. That’s the whole reason for doing it is a ministry. It is to help people both physically with the disaster and spiritually.”

Teams are trained for the work they will be doing as disaster relief, such as chainsaw work or cleaning out flooded homes.

“We have had 60 requests for help and as of … today (April 22), we are right around 42-43 that we have completed,” Mims said.

He said the straight-line wind damage looks like it was caused by a gravity wave.

“This is the biggest one I’ve seen,” Mims said. “It almost looks like a hurricane.”

Rains on April 23 brought a pause to relief efforts, but Mims expected teams to be back at work on April 24.