The town of Pleasant Grove was hit by an EF-4 tornado on the afternoon of April 27, 2011, damaging or destroying an estimated 2,500 homes. The tornado sustained winds of 190 miles per hour and traveled nearly 81 miles with a path 1.5 miles wide.
Much work is needed to rebuild Pleasant Grove.
A volunteer effort called the Locally Organized Volunteer Effort was formed to begin the work of recovery in Pleasant Grove (LOVE) under the leadership of Gorden Thomason, a member of Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.
In September, LOVE originally partnered with the North Alabama Conference Disaster Recovery Team to work with disaster case management. However, the partnership has developed further.
LOVE and North Alabama Conference Disaster Recovery Team will work together to send volunteer teams into Pleasant Grove. The partnership provides more teams in the area, allowing more rebuilding. Thomason will supervise construction in the Pleasant Grove area. The Disaster Recovery Team will schedule the volunteer teams.
Thomason began his career as an architectural designer. He partnered with Mission to North America and Mission to the World to bring relief to those in need. Thomason has also taken mission trips to Albania, Gulf Shores (Hurricane Ivan), Bayou la Batre (Hurricane Katrina) and Uganda. He works with his wife, Sally, who is a nurse.
With the recent $1 million grant given to North Alabama Disaster Recovery Team, a married couple with United Methodist connections will be in the Pleasant Grove area to expedite the process of rebuilding. Curtis and Sally Brown will join the teams in Pleasant Grove in November. Sally will serve as a case manager and Curtis will assist with construction.
“Every now and then, you know a 'God thing' when it happens. Meeting Gorden Thomason was an answer to prayers we had separately prayed. Both of us were praying for ways to better serve the Pleasant Grove area. We believed God put the two groups together (LOVE and North Alabama UMDR) to help rebuild lives in Pleasant Grove. It is a privilege to work side by side with Gorden and his group of dedicated Christians who comprise the LOVE organization,” remarked Rev. Nancy Cole, North Alabama Conference Coordinator of Disaster Recovery.