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Devastation at Brookport

On Nov. 17th tornados hit Brookport, Illinois located in southern Illinois across the Ohio river from Paducah Kentucky killing four people. The town of less than 1000 had many trailers used as homes which made the inhabitants more vulnerable.

Most of Brookport’s inhabitants are below the poverty level income and did not have home owners insurance.

Several ministers from all faiths in the area formed a group called Across the Bridge Ministry in a cooperative effort to assist those in need.   They helped homeowners obtain money from FEMA , UMCOR , McCormick Foundation and the Salvation Army. These monies helped supply the building materials that the volunteers use to rebuild their homes.

COMMUNITY UMC RESPONDS May 18-23, 2014

Seven CUMC members and one person from Evans UMC near Rockford. VIM people were Judy Allen, Alyson Buckland, George Groves, Bill Denwood, Larry Roessler, JoAnn Roessler, Dick Legg. Brad Drake (honorary member of CUMC from Evans UMC also joined the group)

Our accommodations in Brookport were a small Christian Church about two blocks from our worksite. The church was clean and in good repair and included a small kitchen where we could cook our breakfast and dinners. We slept on blow up mattresses. Our shower facility was the volunteer fire department house about 2 blocks from the church. Thanks to Bill Denwood who cleaned the shower area to a condition that we could shower.

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Devastation at Brookport

Our lunch was provided at a Presbyterian church just outside of town. Our cook was Paula who told us that during the Ohio River flood a few years ago, many people came to help her and this was her way of paying back. One day she told us “when you pray, you can eat”. Her lunches were outstanding and we were ready for a nap after lunch.

Our Job Site

We found our work site with a complete foundation poured and the brick laid. We were told by Pastor Jeff (Methodist minister from Metropolis in charge of volunteers) that if we could get the first floor done this week, they would be very happy. None of our group had ever built the foundation floor for a home.

Our home was the third home started this year (their goal is 20 homes this year). We went over to the first home to see how they built the first floor. By Monday mid-morning we were in full construction mode.

On Tuesday we finished the center beam and the perimeter framing and started installing the 2×10” 16ft joist boards. Every board was 18” on center and glued/nailed in the center. It took two boards to reach across the “square” home.

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Back: Larry Roessler, George Groves, Judy Allen
Dick Legg, Brad Drake
Front: JoAnn Roessler, Bill Denwood, Alyson Buckland

On Wednesday we completed the joist installation and started laying the ¾ inch particle board. Every board had to be glued and nailed to keep the floor from squeaking. We had dinner in Paducah at a fish restaurant near the Ohio river and the National Quilting Museum. We walked the park near the river before dinner.   Some of us went to a movie after dinner and enjoyed “Heaven is for Real”.

On Thursday we completed the first floor mid-afternoon, cleaned our job site and went to Metropolis to see Superman after dinner. The entire crew was happy with the quality job

On Friday we planned to work a half day and start the 6 hour drive home. We were assigned to another home that was to start construction soon. Our job was to clean debris from the property to the roadside for pickup. At 12:00 noon our tired and aching bodies started for home satisfied that we did our best to help some people in need of assistance.