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Helping Hands aids hurricane cleanup effort in Dallas County

Helping Hands, the disaster recovery ministry of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was in Selma recently helping local residents clear downed trees and other debris after the recent streak of hurricanes that ripped through the area.

The organization found its way to Selma after Nellie Jones, a lifelong Queen City resident, went looking for help to clean up around her house following Hurricane Delta.

“In all the wind and the rain, we thought somebody was shooting,” Jones said in a Helping Hands press release, referencing the shot-like sounds created when trees began popping and breaking under the pressure of hurricane-force winds.

A tree fell onto Jones’ home, smashing through the roof and a wall, and left a hole that extended through Jones’s garage and into the living room.

Needing assistance, Jones contacted the United Way, which referred her to Crisis Cleanup, an emergency hotline designed to put homeowners in contact with volunteer organization able to offer assistance; a team of Montgomery helping Hands volunteers ran across her case in the Crisis Cleanup database and spent a recent Saturday morning cutting up fallen trees, removing limbs and clearing debris.

Many of the team members who rushed to Jones’ aid had already spent three weekends cleaning up after Hurricane Sally, with more than 6,500 Helping Hands volunteers across four states joining with the Montgomery crew following the storm to donate over 130,000 hours of work to complete nearly 4,000 work orders in Pensacola and Mobile.

“Over the past three months, I have petitioned our members on multiple occasions to aid with cleanup efforts in the wake of natural disasters,” said Montgomery Helping Hands President Quinn Millington, who organized the relief effort in Selma. “Time and time again, they have responded to the call to assist those who are in need.”

More than 80 people worked in Selma, contributing nearly 600 hours of work in one day.

“As I reflect on the hours of service, the sacrifice and even the cost of time, food and travel associated with the service, I have found myself overwhelmed with gratitude,” Millington added.

For volunteer Jill Tippets, who ventured over from Prattville with her husband and three children, the long work day was worth the sacrifice.

“Working with disaster relief teaches our family to serve others,” Tippets said. “It makes you a better person and helps you to forget yourself.”

Another volunteer duo from Prattville, Shad and Simge Lloyd, who also brought their children along, said the effort reminded them of all of the good things they have in life.

“We’ve been so fortunate,” Simge Lloyd said. “We need to give back to the community.”

Jones wasn’t the only one who received help from the organization – a group of volunteers also cleared Dallas County resident Regina Shaw’s yard.

“I never experienced anything like that hurricane before,” Shaw said in the release. “In the morning, there were trees down everywhere you looked.”

For her part, Shaw saw the recent storm as a wakeup call.

“This is nothing but the Lord trying to wake us up,” Shaw said. “God is trying to bring people together, to make us love each other. He wants us to get along.”