Moultrie church opens shelter 24 hours before Irma hits

(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
Heritage Church Pastor Brad Bowen (Source: WALB)
Heritage Church Pastor Brad Bowen (Source: WALB)
Heritage Church shelter organizer Brian Lassetter (Source: WALB)
Heritage Church shelter organizer Brian Lassetter (Source: WALB)

MOULTRIE, GA (WALB) - A church in Moultrie had 24 hours to pull their resources together for an emergency shelter.

About 276 residents rode out Tropical Storm Irma at Heritage Church on Sunday night thanks to more than 100 church volunteers who made the shelter possible.

"I am so glad you came, he said ya'll church is awesome."

A church volunteer shared stories with her pastor about evacuees who were grateful for the church opening its doors on a moment's notice.

"I was personally blown away just by the willingness of our community," Pastor Brad Bowen remarked.

He got the call on Saturday afternoon from Mayor Bill McIntosh.

Mayor McIntosh needed a shelter in 24 hours for people looking for a place to stay ahead of Irma.

"It was purely a miracle to see all of this come together," said Pastor Bowen.

Donations came in by the truckload from the local Hen House and Publix, and thanks to the organizing efforts of Brian Lassetter.

"We really were able to underpromise and over-deliver," Lassetter explained.

After decades in the Army and National Guard, Lassetter put his skills to the test and mobilized 150 church volunteers both old and young.

"Me and Chris and Robert were lifting mattresses and taken them to people," said a young volunteer.

"Very appreciative to start with to have a facility to come to," Lassetter explained.

The place was wall-to-wall with local residents who felt unsafe in their own homes.

Lassetter even called on National Guard personnel to install a backup generator after the church lost power.

"God's light shined in the last 24 hours here in Colquitt through the use of Heritage Church and all the volunteers," said Lassetter.

"It really just felt like we're coming together as one family and we're going to see this thing through," Pastor Bowen explained.

The more than 250 evacuees all returned home after getting clearance from the city leaders.

Moultrie urged residents to stay off the roads until the curfew is lifted at 1 p.m. on Tuesday.

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