First Stop, Inc. looking for the sunshine after the storms regarding those in Huntsville’s tent camps

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - While the flooding in the Tennessee Valley soaked houses, imagine the impact it makes on the tent camps in the Rocket City.

"Out of events like this also comes a lot of opportunity," First Stop, Inc. Executive Director Clete Wetli said.

Within the broken tent camp on Derrick Street, Wetli sees Monday's rain as an opportunity to rebuild.

"It's an opportunity for people actually to really hit their rock bottom and come to a place like First Stop, get a case manager and really find out what they can do to exit a camp like this, and really start rebuilding their lives," Wetli said.

No one understands this opportunity more than newly employed Jamie Rhineheimer.

"I'm trying to build myself," Rhineheimer said. "Like, hit rock bottom and come back up, I hit my lowest point and that was about a week ago."

He said reaching your breaking point is the necessary starting line to a new life.

"I don't want that. None of them want this," Rhineheimer said.

These guys said your minutes and money help more than random supplies to those in the camps.

"We feel like we've got a good handle on supplies to bring out to the homeless community," Wetli said.

Wetli says it's very typical for people to see camps and want to donate directly to those people. But, Wetli says it's more important to donate to places like First Stop because sometimes your donations can do more good that way.

"That way we can hire more case managers and do some more substantive things," Wetli said. "To pair up with a case manager that can help them come up with an individual plan to transition from living in a camp like this to stable and independent living."

As the rain moves in, Good Samaritans and local churches are working towards a temporary solution to their struggle.

"We're sending outreach teams out to make sure that when people do set up tents that they secure them properly, that they've got pallets under them so they don't wash away," Wetli said.

If you would like to donate to the futures of those at First Stop, Inc., you can stop by their facility at 206 Stokes Street in Huntsville, call (256)533-3391, or donate online at

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