KATHLEEN, Fla. — Debbie Cloud stood under the shaded overhang of the Mt. Tabor Baptist Church and watched as a work crew screwed pieces of metal over holes in the roof.

“We’re just excited to see progress being made,” said the church’s financial secretary.”

It’s been a “slow” process, as Cloud puts it, bouncing back from the tornado that ripped up the roof and tore down a building that house Mt. Tabor’s food pantry. The storm on Oct. 18, 2019 did major damage all over sections of Kathleen.

The church has waited weeks to finally get the roof repaired. The $50,000 job should be finished by this Sunday.

“That’s very good. I am thrilled to death to see the tarp go away,” said pastor Matt Gilmore.

The church has seen donations and help come from all across Polk County. The small church started the rebuilding process with new windows. The repairs continue with the roof. Next comes the porch and eventually the $300,000 project of building a 9,000-square foot facility for a new food pantry and preschool.

“We’ll say God is good,” said Cloud with a smile.

Through all the difficulty, the church has thrived.

“I was asked sometime back about how do I feel when I see the church like this and I go, “Well, the church looks awesome”,” said Gilmore. “The people have responded. They’re being faithful. They’re giving. They’re coming. The building is a mess but the church is fine. 

"But I also know that just like in the book of Nehemiah, when the walls were down the people’s faith were down a little bit. I think even a thing as simple as a roof, getting on top and getting this fixed is going to encourage our people to go, “Things are going to get better.'”

The hope is that Mt. Tabor will have everything completed by Sunday, Oct. 18 – the one-year anniversary of the storm.

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