BEATRICE, Ala. (BP)–Here’s an idea if the electricity goes out, for an extended period of time, after a hurricane.
In the small south Alabama town of Beatrice, community residents, along with a local store owner, combined their refrigerated and frozen food items and cooked out on grills when they realized the items would spoil before electricity could be restored.
“It’s been a communitywide effort,” reported Claudia Smith, Beatrice Baptist Church secretary. “Everybody’s been sharing whatever they have … food, water, ice, generators. One of our church deacons has a logging company and he has had his crew and equipment in here getting trees off people’s houses.”
Smith noted that working together is just a way of life for Beatrice residents. “Everybody in town has pitched in and helped each other. It’s just the way people in Beatrice are —- giving and sharing and seeing that everybody is taken care of.”
In southern Choctaw County, Ala., –- where Hurricane Baptist Church is the focal point of much of the community’s life — layman Randy Duncan, despite multiple health problems, spent countless hours after Ivan’s onslaught making ice and delivering it to about 20 neighbors, maintaining their generations during more than a week without electricity, and otherwise checking on their well-being.
“Randy Duncan has been an angel to us,” neighbor Carvel Richard said. “We call him our ‘angel on a 4-wheeler.’”
The 47-year-old Duncan’s health problems have included three strokes, three heart attacks, a pacemaker, a brace on his leg and seizures on a regular basis. “Because of his seizures, he can’t drive a car,” Richard said. “But that didn’t stop him. He got on his 4-wheeler and went from house to house helping everyone.”
At Camp Baldwin, which is owned by the Baldwin Baptist Association on the Alabama Gulf Coast, housing has been provided for disaster relief volunteers and about 250 power and telephone company crew members.
About a dozen staff members rode out the storm inside a new multipurpose building, which was built to withstand hurricane-force winds up to 140 mph.
Although one staff trailer was literally “cut in half” by a large tree, camp director David Payne said no one was inside.
“You could hear the roof beams creaking as they stretched from the force of wind, but the building stood firm,” Payne said. “I thought it was worse than [Hurricane] Frederick [in 1979] —- at least here where we were. It just kept coming and coming.”
The staffers inside the building peered out at times to watch winds taking down tree after tree. More than 100 trees, most of them large oaks or pines, crashed to the ground across the 66-acre campus, but no buildings were hit.
“The oaks and pines have been here a long time, creating so much ambience on the campus. But trees can be replaced — in time,” Payne said.
None of the trees fell into the prayer garden, allowing a prayer bench and cross to remain unscathed, noted Marsha Graham, receptionist/reservationist for the camp.
While the storm raged outside, slight water damage occurred from leakage around windows and doors in the hurricane-proof building, which houses offices, a kitchen, gymnasium and conference rooms.
Compiled from The Alabama Baptist, with reporting by Sondra Washington, Dee Ann Campbell & Anthony Wade.