FUMC provides for others first

Published 10:40 am Monday, June 20, 2005

By By Lee Weyhrich
Volunteers organized by First United Methodist Church have repaired 193 homes and six churches, according to Pastor Doug Newton.
Many of those houses had to practically be rebuilt.
During the months since Hurricane Ivan they have only put one project on the backburner, their own roof.
"The story on that is that we lost over 200 of those Spanish mission tiles off the roof during Hurricane Ivan," Newton said. "It was not easy to find the right company to replace that roof. Not every roofing company could replace that roof."
The church wanted to make sure people in the community who could not afford to get repairs done had a dry, safe, place to live. Meanwhile the church was having its own problems in repairing damage.
"Our first estimates were very low for what we could get on insurance, but luckily we have a very good insurance agent," Newton said. "We really appreciate the fact that we were able to get our insurance company to come through. We had three different adjusters to come and we had to keep being patient until we could get that expensive roof repaired."
Getting the roof repaired may have taken several months, but the congregation wanted to replace it with tile.
"That roof is a unique roof and we wanted to keep the Spanish tile roof on our sanctuary," Newton said.
Work began on the roof three weeks ago, but constant rain and weather changes have delayed the completion of the project.
"While we didn't have our roof on we were still bringing teams in to help Atmore," Newton said. "Our teams are working on the insides of houses now. We've had some teams to come again and again. We've had some groups from Auburn that have come six times to help. They've primarily come in to fix houses. Of course initially they were cutting down trees and putting up tarps. Most of the houses that still have tarps on are because that person for one reason or another can not afford to get the work done. We do the work for free and hopefully they can get enough money for materials. Sometimes we are even able to help them raise money for materials."
The church has hosted 92 teams as volunteers.
"We were keeping these teams in our youth house and we are now putting them in the home owned by Ruth Vickery," Newton said. "That's where the teams are now staying. The couple that's here right now coordinating the teams is Phil and Aileen Van Dixon from Pocahontas, Tenn., and they're Baptist. The last group was a team of Lutherans. Most are Methodist, but many have been Baptists and this last group was Lutheran. Its good when different denominations get together to serve the needs of the community. We have about five teams scheduled to be here in the next six weeks and as far as we know we will continue this until all the houses have been made right. That's our aim and our hope, and it will take a long time from the looks of things. We're still in the process of seeing how many homes in Atmore are in need of a new roof or structure."
Newton is proud of how far the community has come since Ivan and all the work that has been done.
"It's [work has] been going on all over town though for the last eight or 10 months and we're just very fortunate that we could get that (the roof) done," Newton said. "We're very pleased to see the good work that's been going on at First Baptist Church. It's been an inspiration to see how well they have done in repairing their facility. The ministers in Atmore met a few weeks ago about rebuilding the town and we are calling our effort Rebuild Atmore."
While the effort to rebuild other houses in Atmore is ongoing, Newton is glad to see a new roof going on one particular house of God.
"We are very grateful to get our roof back on," Newton concluded.

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