Fuller Center volunteers clean up Troup Co. tornado site on Saturday

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, May 9, 2023

NORTH WEST POINT — A little more than two weeks ago, Kim Roberts of the Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project (CFCP) met with Randall Hamer of the Freedom in Christ organization to discuss having a cleanup day in the area just outside the West Point city limits that was devastated by a tornado on Sunday morning, March 26th. A total of 30 homes were destroyed in an area along Highway 29 on one side of I-85 and in the Shoemaker-Lower Lovelace Road-Billings Road area on the other side of the Interstate.

Two weeks ago, Roberts and Hamer agreed to have a Blocks of Blessings event for these storm-impacted areas. The goal was to get the word out that volunteers were needed to cut trees, put debris into dumpsters, to rake yards and do general cleanup work in areas where people are still trying to get over on what happened to them on Palm Sunday.

“We were hoping to have around 100 volunteers to help us that day,” Roberts said. “We had no idea we’d have the turnout we did. At least 250 people were there. Our community showed up and showed out in a big way. I can’t tell you how joyful we were at the response we got. We got a lot done on Saturday, and I want to thank everyone who helped us in some way.”

Email newsletter signup

Matthew & Jody’s Tree Service was there to cut the big trees. “You have to have someone like them to do that kind of work,” Roberts said. “They know what they are doing. It’s too dangerous for anyone other than professionals to do that kind of work.”

Lopez Landscaping had a chipper there to cut up the trunks of small trees and limbs, chipping them into piles of sawdust.

Over $17,000 in donations came in to help out on the Blocks of Blessings work day. This allowed Roberts and her assistant, Robin Pierre, to purchase items such as rakes, shovels, hoes, wheelbarrows and loppers from Home Depot of LaGrange. These tools in the hands of lots and lots of volunteers allowed for a whole lot of needed work to take place.

The bulk of the volunteers came from local churches. “We were overwhelmed with the response we got,” Roberts said. “We especially want to thank Spring Road Christian Church, Roper Heights Baptist, West Point Methodist, Plant City Baptist and Valley Baptist for what they did on Saturday.”

The We Serve team from Spring Road Christian prepared lots of food for the many volunteers who worked up healthy appetites by noon and at the end of the day. Renasant Bank of Valley purchased 400 hot dogs and Kroger in Lanett provided the hot dog buns for that big crowd. Joe Wells of McDonald’s in Valley sent lots of breakfast biscuits. Coca-Cola of Weset Point provided the drinks and Tasty Donuts of Lanett provided some of their tasty treats.

“The Charter Foundation made a huge donation to help us,” Roberts said. “We want to thank them. We also want to thank Kia and Hyundai Transys for providing safety gloves and safety glasses. We want to thank Home Depot of LaGrange for providing us lots and lots of trash bags.”

Employees of Kia and Hyundai Transys were among the volunteers helping out.

On Monday, the cities of West Point, Lanett and Valley brought sway cars to the work sites. These will carry limbs and branches to a site up Highway 29 near Reed’s Chapel Baptist Church. Troup County is permitting it to be deposited there and for it to be burned at a later date. The demolition material will be taken to the Chambers County landfill.

“This was a big, big project that came together fast,” Roberts said. “We did it on only two weeks of planning. It just shows how generous and willing to help others people of our Greater Valley and the surrounding region are. We had 50 people from the Church of the Highlands in Auburn getting the work done in the Shoemaker-Lower Lovelace Road-Billings Road area. Randall Hamer and others with Freedom in Christ have been doing yeoman’s work in that impacted area. He calls what we did on Saturday Phase One. There’s still a lot more than needs to be done there, but what we did on Saturday will go a long way to getting things back to normal. Those people who were impacted by the storm are our friends and neighbors. We want them to know that. Many of them were there taking on their part in the clean up.”

The site near what once was Bethel Baptist Church was the operations center. Jackson Heating & Air has a tent set up on the parking lot. The brick building that housed the church has been leveled and removed from the site. It will be replaced by a metal building.

A number of local churches have taken it upon themselves to do cleanup work in the area. They have been doing it on a much smaller scale since the damage was done.

West Point Mayor Steve Tramell was among the volunteers helping out on Saturday. “I am very happy with the turnout we are getting today,” he told The Valley Times-News. “It just shows what people can do when they come together to help those in need.”