Hope When Flood Waters Rise

Lee and Darlene were camping at Summersville Lake when the rain began to fall. The rain was heavy and they began to worry as the lake levels were rising. Eventually it flooded the campground and they began to worry about their home. It was along a stream that had gotten high before but had never flooded their home.
 
As they left the campground, they could not return home because the road home was closed due to mud slides so they spent the night in their camper in the Walmart parking lot as the rain continued to fall. The next morning they traveled a circular route of back roads across the top of the mountain to come home; even these roads had been damaged by rushing water. They were anticipating damage but nothing prepared them for what they found when they finally arrived home.

The stream had reached epic proportions and flooded the valley to the very base of the mountain. Darlene’s car was nowhere to be seen. They eventually found it about a half-mile away wedged against a tree. The home that had never been flooded had received over seven feet of floodwater that night. The house was filled with mud and debris left by the receding waters. Everything on the first floor, furniture, appliances, photographs and memories was destroyed.

Members of Darlene’s church came and helped them drag everything out of the house. Then members of her daughter’s and her son’s church from outside of the area came and helped tear out the drywall and the flooring and begin the drying process. The compensation they received from FEMA and other agencies was not enough to pay for the cost of the materials needed to replace the drywall, flooring and kitchen cabinets. Once again, the church assisted in providing resources for materials. Her son took responsibility for rebuilding the kitchen and church based work teams helped with the drywall and the flooring.

By the end of August, nearly two months after the first raindrops fell, Lee and Darlene’s kitchen was completed and the living room was finished. The other rooms were nearly completed and they were anticipating moving back into their home. Two months of hard work on their part and significant support from churches across the region had helped one family make the transition from flood victim to flood survivors.

One family and at least five work teams to assist in the recovery as well as family and friends assisting in the reclaiming of the home. For many people, the floods have passed into memory, but the long process of recovery remains and there is still much to be done. The need for teams to come and help rebuild homes remains vital. It takes several teams for every home to be repaired. Is it possible for your congregation or group of congregations to raise a team to work in one of the flood areas in southern West Virginia or in Follansbee in the Northern Panhandle before colder weather settles upon these families.

Mike Linger may be contacted at mlinger@houseofthecarpenter.com

Whitney is the Communications Specialist for the West Virginia United Methodist Conference.