BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – While Sundays are normally for services, one church has been working overtime to serve members of its congregation and community.
Beulah Land Baptist Church opened as a shelter this week. It sits about three miles from the landfill site and serves as a place of refuge for people wanting to escape the stench.
Pastor Tim Crusenberry calls the smell indescribable.
“If I was reaching for a definition I would say if you had about 100 dead, decomposing rats that had been rotting for about two weeks,” Crusenberry said. “That’s a similar smell.”
The shelter’s been open a few days now, and Crusenberry said he’s had just a few visitors so far. The visitors told him that just knowing the shelter is there gives them peace of mind.
Lynn Karriker lives near the landfill and said sometimes she has to escape.
“My parents live next door to me, but their house is I guess built better,” Karriker said. “It’s more air-tight, so we evacuated three nights within eight days between two and four in the morning.”
For those who don’t have another place to go– Crusenberry is stepping up. He said after seeing cries for help on social media, he felt called on to lend a hand.
“If they want to come by for a few hours or a few minutes to get a cup of coffee and just rest and decompress, or if they need to share their burden,” Crusenberry said. “If they’re so frustrated, and they need a release to someone to talk to about it. We’re here to talk with them and help them any way that we can.”
Crusenberry’s goal is to eventually be open throughout the night. He’s looking for donations like cots to make it happen.
“This is a community problem,” Crusenberry said. “We’re all involved in this to some degree. I’ve got family that’s living in this, I’ve got church people that’s living in this.”