Vienna Church Provides Shelter During Winter Storms
VIENNA -- A Johnson County church is reaching out to those in need. After last week's winter storms, Fellowship Baptist Church has opened their building as a shelter for those stranded.
During winter storms, many people find themselves on the side of the road or without power. That's when Fellowship Baptist Church in Vienna, opens its doors as an active warming Shelter.
The gym inside the church was built 13 years ago as a way of providing recreation for the congregation. But during times of trouble, the gym becomes a home away from home.
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"Due to power outages and many of our residents in Johnston County only having access to electric heat, a facility such as this could be utilized to house them in that time of need," says church member Joshua Stafford.
Stafford says the church has been providing aid for people in disaster situations since the late 2000's. They have 500 cots, showers and plenty of food available. The church partners with community agencies to help in the shelter process. Police help provide much of the transportation to and from the church.
"We'll pick up people on the interstate for example and bring them here to the church or in town," explains Vienna Police Chief Jim Miller. "Next door to us is a senior housing. We'll drive up to the senior housing and pickup elderly residents and bring them here to the church."
Johnson County emergency services coordinator Jim Haney says, finding a warming shelter has been a problem in the past when hotels are full.
"Whenever the need arises. I can get ahold of someone from the church here and if there is anyway possible the church is able to assist us they're willing to do that," says Haney.
The gym can hold more than 200 people at a time. And the church is willing to keep them as long as needed. The church provides aid in emergency situations all year around. A thought that brings peace of mind to Chief Miller.
"We're on the scene with these people and they need immediate help and it's great to have this open," he says.
All the partners involved would like to see more warming shelters in the city but until then, the church will always have its doors open.
Wind: 9 MPH
Humidity: 54 %