Ocean Springs church provides shelter from the storm

By Doug Walker – bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Icy rain poured down outside the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Ocean Springs Thursday night. It's a rain that would send the most hardy souls searching for shelter.  That's exactly what some men found inside the doors of the church, a haven from the storm.

Pastor Hal Selby said the decision to open a shelter was an easy one.

"We've got this facility here, it's got showers, we can put beds here and just help out and so we did," Selby said.

The city of Ocean Springs also helped out by donating much needed items.

"They gave us air mattresses, cots. These were some things I think were donated as a result of Katrina and they just didn't have anywhere to store, and so they were more than willing to help us out."

This is the second time Emmanuel Baptist Church has opened as a shelter, and the second time the volunteers have cooked for the homeless. The men who were sheltered overnight said they are eternally grateful.

"Well, we say a big thank-you," Randy said. "They do a tremendous thing and the need the community has."

Mike stayed at the church as well.  He said if the shelter had not opened, his overnight hours would have been dramatically different.

"Probably somewhere trying to stay dry and warm, more than likely," Mike said. "If it weren't for this church and Brother Hal, I'd probably be cold, wet and sick already."

Despite the current turmoil in his life, Mike said he has a new outlook thanks to the church.

"It shows me that there are still people out here who care and help people."

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