Maranatha Baptist still taking donations as freeze continues

By ED HOWELL, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 1/3/18

Maranatha Baptist Church in West Jasper is needing more donations to operate as a temporary 24/7 warming station as frigid temperatures have taken over the area, causing pipes to bust and creating a need to find a warm place to stay.

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Maranatha Baptist still taking donations as freeze continues


Maranatha Baptist Church in West Jasper is needing more donations to operate as a temporary 24/7 warming station as frigid temperatures have taken over the area, causing pipes to bust and creating a need to find a warm place to stay.

Temperatures since the weekend have dipped at nights into the teens, with wind chills also possibly dragging the numbers into single digits at time. Daytime temperatures over the holiday weekend did not make it above freezing.

According to the National Weather Service office in Birmingham, a hard freeze warning is in effect through Thursday morning, while a watch is in effect through Saturday morning. After a high of 39 degrees today, the low in Jasper tonight is expected to be 15 degrees. The high Thursday will be 33 degrees, followed by a low of 12 degrees. Friday’s high will be 38 degrees, but the low Friday night will be 16 degrees.

After a high of 49 degrees Saturday, the low will only be 24 degrees that night and then remain above freezing for a few days, with showers arriving Sunday night and Monday.

Carbon Hill also has operated a warming station, with citizens directed to come by the police department to be directed to the facility. (No one had asked for shelter there by late Tuesday, according to Carbon Hill Mayor Mark Chambers.) Pastor TJ Armstrong of Parrish Church of God of Prophecy said his church was willing to serve as a temporary shelter this week, with four people coming by a few nights ago.

John Durham, who helps pastor Jerry Boyd in directing the Maranatha shelter, said Tuesday afternoon more than two dozen people have sought assistance there since the shelter opened Sunday, with people coming in and out. “And there are still more coming in and out,” he said.

“People who don’t have adequate heating, they can come in and stay. Once the weather breaks, they can go,” he said, noting some residential heating units just simply can’t keep up with the temperatures. “Some of them do stay overnight. We have cots. With some of the pew cushions, they can make like a pallet to lay on.” 

People can come if power problems have caused the power to go out in the frigid temperatures, he said. Police who find individuals wandering around in the cold are also welcome to being those people to the church.

Margaret Paige, who is in charge of donations for Maranatha’s shelter, said truck loads of donated goods are coming in at times. “We’re getting in a lot and giving out a lot,” she said.

Some people are sometimes coming for groceries to get a hot meal. Volunteers had a number of bags of groceries and personal hygiene items from Gateway ready to hand out. Bags from the American Red Cross and Aldi were also seen.

She said a number of items are needed as the week’s freeze continues, including personal hygiene products, tobaggons, gloves, undergarments for men and women, shoes, coats and socks.

New Beacon Hospice in Jasper announced Tuesday in a statement it was “implementing a drop-off station at our Jasper office to meet the immediate and urgent needs of the less fortunate” during this week’s cold weather emergency, as it planned to donate supplies and donations to Maranatha. Among the items being collected were toboggans, coats, paper plates, cotton gloves, blankets, plastic spoons and forks, heavy sweat shirts, toiletries, styrofoam cups, warm socks, canned goods and paper towels. Anyone wanting to bring supplies to the hospice may call Jeff Chambless, Steve Tubbs, LeAnn Shadinger, Linda Mayor or Amy Carter at 205-387-9339.

Anyone wanting to check about making donations to Maranatha may also call Durham at 205-512-5567. The church is located at 1700 Barker St. in Jasper.

Alabama Power’s Walker County manager, Britton Lightsey, said he did not know of any major power outages in the area during the weekend.

Walker County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Regina Myers said no travel problems had resulted from the cold weather. County Engineer Mike Short and Jerry Bishop, chairman of the Walker County Commission, could not be reached for comment.

However, Myers said “a handful of people” across the county had complained of frozen water pipes, resulting in the biggest complaint that she has heard of.

“They said they’ve never had a problem before, even in colder temperatures, but for some reason they are seeing a lot of it now, where they are having a lot of frozen water lines,” Myers said.

She said as the temperatures rise, that will many times cause the pipes to burst and then the plumbing will have to be replaced, she said.

Most of the frozen pipes reported in have involved sinks where a shut-off value can be used, meaning they are not completely be without water.

Myers noted temperatures would remain low much of this week, urging residents to keep check on the elderly, relatives and friends if they have enough heat and are staying warm. She also urged people to bring in pets or make sure heat lamps are near them, as well as making sure they have fresh water in case their drinking water freezes. She also urged people to insulate their pipes as best they can.