Long-Term Recovery committee begins new build

Published 10:00 am Thursday, December 7, 2023

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In a powerful step towards recovery, the Selma Long-Term Recovery Committee marked a significant milestone on Thursday, Nov. 30, as they commenced the construction of their first disaster relief home. Jay Gilmer, the committee chairman, expressed the committee’s commitment in helping rebuild the community.

“We are the local focal point, working with national partners like the United Methodist Disaster group and United Way,” Gilmer said. “Our goal is to help neighbors recover, especially those who lack the means to do so financially.”

The committee, composed of 15 dedicated volunteers from the community, was established in the aftermath of the Jan. 12 tornado. Gilmer emphasized the dual role the group plays in the area.

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“Our role is twofold: to advocate for the needs of the community and then to facilitate the resources to address those needs,” Gilmer said.

The committee has been engaged in individual case management, ranging from replacing household appliances and furniture to constructing entirely new homes, ensuring that those individuals most affected are able to receive the help needed.

The current project targets existing homeowners facing financial challenges in rebuilding after the storm. Gilmer stressed the importance of collaborative efforts in making this build a reality.

“Through generous donors like UMCOR and Jeff Cothran at United Way,” Gilmer said. “We are able to do this at absolutely no cost to the homeowners.”

Bud Mitchell, Construction Coordinator for the Alabama/Western Florida United Methodist Disaster Group, shed light on the comprehensive approach undertaken.

“We work on behalf of UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, and we do most of the vetting of those applying for help,” Mitchell said. “We do some of the funding and we work getting volunteers and groups together to do the actual work. 

The labor-intensive project is being supported by the Mennonite Disaster services who are ensuring that the construction meets fortified standards, surpassing local building codes.

Jeff Cothran, Executive Director of the United Way in Selma and Dallas County expressed his excitement about the progress and emphasized the organization’s ongoing effort.

“After the storm, United Way immediately started fundraising for disaster relief,” Cothran said. “Our office just got repaired and we’re putting in beds so that we can house the volunteers coming in. We’re just pleased to be a part of rebuilding this community.”

Acknowledging the contribution of the Mennonite and Amish community, Cothran is certain that the quality of the building will be exceptional and said he expects much of the home to be completed within a month’s time.

As the Selma Long-Term Recovery Committee embarks on this journey of rebuilding, this first home is not only tangible proof of progress but what volunteers hope will be a beacon of hope for actual long-term recovery in the community.