Finding sure-footed foundation on which to rebuild

By Anthony Antoine |

Published 11/25 2013 12:07PM

Updated 11/12 2014 04:56PM

GIFFORD -- There's a lot of work left to do yet, but townspeople are turning to a different foundation to help them rebuild. Sunday, people here had their first church services since last week's tornado. WCIA-3's Anthony Antoine hears from residents who were looking forward to the day of prayer.

"Gifford is a little community with a big heart."

"It's kind of like Katrina."

"It's such a sad scene to look at that after knowing what it looked like before."

This church is one of the few buildings left standing in town. It's the place where Mark Billingsly and most people in town call home.

"It's built on rock and Jesus Christ. It's solid and anyone in town knows that they can home here for anything."

Residents took their burdens to the altar, letting Him handle the rest.

"A community of faith needs to have this time to come and be able to pray, to sing, to express emotion. There was a mixture of tears, sorrow, but also joy and even some laughter."

Pastor Steve Lombardo says he waited to hear the right message.

"The needs, as I sensed, are needs of encouragement, comfort, hope. A recognition of the reality of the devastation."

An EF-3 tornado swept the town away in a half-hour. Hundreds of volunteers have stepped in to help, and the town will need hundreds more.

There's still a lot of work to be done, but for just a few hours, the town stood still. No one lifted a finger to work. Instead, everyone wrote down words of spiritual encouragement.

"I thought it was an outstanding service. Could you pick the songs and sermon to be any better?"

As the rebuilding process moves forward, the town is putting restrictions on cleanup. Residents can no longer put their debris on the curb for it to be hauled away.

A village board member says the last pick up was earlier Sunday evening. Ernway Drive, where much of it is piled up, is closed.

The debris needs to be cleared in order to get utilities back up and running. Anyone who doesn't haul way their own debris could be fined.

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