The light at the end of the tunnel: ACOG recovers after flooding

By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer 

ALABASTER – When tornadoes came through and hit the neighboring cities of Helena and Pelham months before, the Alabaster Church of God reached out and tried to help their neighbors through food donations and other projects. Now, the church finds themselves in a similar position after being hit by flooding earlier this month.

Pastor Ken Stroup said that the flooding struck the church seemingly out of nowhere and caused extensive damage to the facility and destroyed a lot of what they had been working on over the years.

“We lost all of our desks, all of the bookcases and I lost a whole bunch of the stuff in my office that was irreplaceable,” Stroup said. “We had a bible that I had preached maybe 5,000 sermons out of that was in a plastic container. It filled up with water and completely ruined it.”

Aside from items that were lost, the church itself sustained major damage that will require quite a bit of work over the coming weeks and months.

“We had to cut the sheet rock four feet up because the water got up to 19 inches deep,” Stroup explained. “When we finally got in the building after all of the flooding receded, there was water still standing. We had to have a company come in and tear everything out. They have to dry the building out, spray it down and kill all of the mold and mildew.”

In a situation where many would feel defeated and want to give up, Stroup and his congregation are looking steadfastly into the future.

“We kept going to church,” Stroup said. “We had service in a tent for two Sundays and then we were able to move back into our fellowship hall. We had to take up the floor in the hall, but luckily we have a cement floor so we are still able to have people in the building successfully.”

The process to rebuild might take a while, but it has inspired confidence among the members at ACOG for what is to come.

“Most of them are taking the ideology that at least when we get done it will be all new,” Stroup joked. “Unfortunately, we do not get to think about moving, but that does allow us to build back better. God has got a purpose for everything, this is a way to renew our church and we can make it modern now, and we know God will bless us in everything we do.”

The church is known for their local efforts in providing food to those in need and they did not let the flooding stop them from reaching out to their community.

“Right after the flooding we had one of our farm-to-family groups reach out and send us some surplus food boxes to give out,” Stroup said. “We were able to get the word out and helped to feed more than 200 families that week. We had things like canned goods, meat, bread and whatever else we can find.”

A few weeks later, the church is starting to return to normal but there is a long road ahead for the congregation. Through talks with insurance companies, rebuilding plans and the wait for it all to happen they will have to be patient.

Stroup wanted the community to know that they are still offering their food bank every third Thursday, and whenever they get surplus deliveries.