Overcoming hardships

Published 12:16 pm Wednesday, July 20, 2005

By By Adam Prestridge
Bouncing back from Hurricane Dennis will be extremely hard for Pat Crenshaw.
The Atmore business owner lost everything during the destructive storm.
"I lost it all, all the way to the ground," Crenshaw said. "It's all gone."
The powerful winds from Hurricane Dennis leveled Crenshaw Motors located on 1010 East Nashville Ave. leaving behind a huge pile of rubble that also included Crenshaw's entire inventory.
"It's his only source of income, plus he has two children that work for him, which is their only source of income," Crenshaw's brother-in-law Dannie King said. "We're talking about grown children, so it didn't just wipe out his income, it wiped out his children's income too."
Crenshaw has also been going through a lot of emotions at home. His wife, Yvonnie, has been undergoing extensive treatment for breast cancer, which requires a lot of financial support.
"The worst part of all is his wife is really having serious battle with breast cancer right now; going through chemo and stuff like that," King said. "The Lord said he wouldn't put more on you than you can stand, but it sure is pushing the limit here. The last thing you need when you're going through the expenses of cancer treatment is the loss of your income. This (hurricane loss) just compounds it."
King knows the emotions one has to deal with while having a close love one with cancer. His wife, who is also Crenshaw's sister, Myra, also had breast cancer in 1992.
"I know what's that like, it's not just tough on the victim, but the caregiver goes through a tremendous amount of pressure too," King said. "It's kind of tough."
This is not the first time a hurricane has done damage to Crenshaw's business. Hurricane Ivan blew the roof off his building slinging debris everywhere and damaging cars Crenshaw had outside. This year he tried another means of keeping his inventory protected, but it backfired.
"What he did this time was put his best vehicles inside never thinking that the block walls were going to collapse on them, so his best vehicles were crushed," King said. "That gets rid of his best source of income of cars to sell, so it's been tough on him"
Once television news stations began reporting stories on the Crenshaw's loss people from all over began writing wanting to help them rebuild.
To top it all off, Crenshaw didn't have insurance.
"They (television stations) started getting a lot of people that were willing to donate, but they didn't have anywhere to donate, so that's why we set this fund up," King said. "There needs to be some awareness brought to it because we're talking about a family that's been devastated, everything's gone."
King has set up an account at First National Bank of Atmore for people to donate.
"He's been a great help," Crenshaw said.
Believe it or not, there is a bright side to the Crenshaw's story.
"When the storm was coming through the other day my wife was praying and told me she said a prayer for the good Lord to wrap His hands around the house and to protect it," Crenshaw said. "When we woke up the next morning and we found out the shop was tore up, she was crying and laughing at the same time and told me that she prayed for God to protect the house, which he did, but she said she forgot to pray for the shop. It's kind of like a double whammy for her with her having cancer."
King agreed.
"The good news is that he lost a lot of trees in yard, but everyone of them blew away from his home," King said. "They didn't have any home damage, so that was a positive. We thank God for that."
Not only have people in and surrounding the Atmore area offered assistance to the Crenshaws, but people throughout the state as well as the U.S. have also. They have also had families as far as Switzerland wanting to help.
"I think when you have a storm it brings out the worst in bad people and the best in good people," King said. "Through Ivan and through Dennis we saw people step up and I've been encouraged to know that people do still care. When you've got people responding from overseas to a gentleman they don't know and wanting to offer assistance to him. That just lets me know that there is still goodness alive in the world. Every time you turn on a news report you hardly ever see anything positive. It's wonderful to see that people care about someone they don't even know."
Even children are emptying their piggy banks to help in the cause.
"One little girl in elementary school sent him $30 and a beautiful letter," King said. "All of those things have just lifted them up. His wife, battling cancer, cried for an hour behind that letter. It's just uplifting to know that people care about them."
Tuesday, Crenshaw moved into his new building, the old Apple Barrel building located on North Main Street across from Church's Chicken.
"It will take us a little while to get back going. You get your basket and fill it up slowly. The good Lord is good to me. We believe in Him and He'll provide for you. We'll bounce back, with the grace of God and helpful people."
Anyone wanting to donate to Crenshaw can drop by First National Bank of Atmore, the account has been set up in the name of Dannie King for Pat Crenshaw Benevolent Fund.

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