Local company helps tornado victims

Published 9:39 pm Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A crew of four workers from a local company was set to return late Wednesday night from four days assisting tornado victims in Georgia.

The town of Albany and surrounding areas were devastated by some of about 40 tornadoes that struck the state during an outbreak Jan. 21-22.

Stephen Butler, the owner of LandWerks Contracting, attends Liberty Spring Christian Church, where the Rev. Chris Surber is pastor. Surber is good friends with the pastor of Byne Memorial Baptist Church in Albany, and through that connection, Butler saw the opportunity to show the love of Christ to victims of the storm in Georgia.

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“It was powerful to have the opportunity to truly show love and support to those that have lost so much,” Butler said. “I felt like the Lord put it upon my heart to go down there and take some equipment that could really make a difference.”

Locally, the company does all kinds of construction working, ranging from clearing and grading to concrete and utilities.

“We do it all,” Butler said.

But in the tornado-ravaged areas of Georgia, Butler and three employees found themselves mostly clearing downed trees and other debris. They repaired water pipes at one home.

“There were very, very large, old-growth trees down everywhere,” Butler said. “We cut some of the largest trees we’ve ever cut.”

Butler and his three employees — Charles Reece, Jason Bradnar and Ralph Gallegos — cut trees from on top of many people’s homes and vehicles.

“Many, many people’s vehicles were smashed by these large oak trees,” Butler said. “It was just unreal, unimaginable destruction. There was a lot of heartache. A lot of folks really lost a lot.”

The crew left here at 6 a.m. Friday morning and took about 14 hours to get themselves and all of their equipment down there, Butler said. They worked from sunrise to sunset Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and traveled back Wednesday. They slept on cots in the gymnasium at Byne Memorial Baptist Church.

Stephen Butler’s wife, Tiffany Butler, said she was glad the business was able to give back.

“The Lord has just blessed us beyond measure with the growth of our business and the contacts and the relationships we’ve gained from it here,” she said. “We try to give as much as we receive. That’s kind of our motto, and we’ve been blessed with it so far.

“When we learned about the devastation that had happened, even though it was many states away, the connections overlapped the relationships there, and we really wanted to pay forward what we have been so blessed with.”