Huntsville's homeless take refuge against the elements

Published: Dec. 29, 2015 at 2:26 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 26, 2016 at 2:46 AM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Heavy rain and strong winds ripped through a homeless camp in Huntsville this weekend. Now it is damaged and in need of repair.

Down a path leads to a home - not a house, but what Leonard Graham has to call "home."

"I wound up on the streets," said Graham.

Graham and the rest of Huntsville's homeless population are battling the elements this holiday season.

Heavy rains Friday and again Monday battered them as they sought shelter under tents and whatever materials they had on hand.

"Hard rain; you couldn't even hear yourself," Graham recalled.

Water seeped into tents, soaking shoes and clothes.

This is the toughest part of the year for Leonard Graham, but he has faith God will see him through it.

"I can do three things: I can marry you, baptize you or bury you," he said.

He wants to preach the word of God, but the weather is ruining his plans, whether they be building a chapel for worship, or even to cook a hot meal - the rain took away his only means of cooking.

Graham took us on a tour of his makeshift living quarters, showing us what he said used to be a burn pit - now a pit filled with water.

A bigger problem than the rain, at least for Graham, is the wind.

"The wind picked up high; high enough where it sent this pole straight through the tarp," he said of some of the damage to his only possessions.

He says when the wind picks up, there's nothing you can do.

"You stay inside your tent and you hope like crazy that a tree does not fall on you," he said.

However, that's exactly what happened this week. Graham said a limb hit the back part of his tent. Luckily, no one was inside, and now it's time to repair the damage.

The struggle is never ending, but Graham isn't complaining.

"[I am] thankful because I am still alive; I'm still here... and I thank God that all of us are still safe.

Graham still has plans to finish building his chapel by the end of the spring. In the meantime, he and many others - with or without homes in the North Alabama area - are faced with the possibility of yet another round of rains by mid-week.

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