Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world
-Teresa of Avila (1515-82)
I was alone in the house when the flood waters began to rise in our neighborhood. Wonderful Wife was on the other side of an already flooded river taking care of folks who can’t take care of themselves. My kids were scattered around the state and all were high and dry.
Even after evacuating to my daughter’s house a couple of miles away, a house filled with he small family, myself and another refugee of the flooding I still felt very alone. That could have just been me wallowing in my own self-pity or the shock of a home I was sure wouldn’t flood being flooded but that’s how I felt.
When I got the call that the waters were receding that changed…fast.
The call came from the owner of the house next door, a house that didn’t flood, and he was there waiting for me. My fellow flood refugee who was staying with my daughter as well was there too. We opened the house while there was still several inches of water in the house and started removing the door sills to help the water drain faster, removing carpet and personal items that had been contaminated. As I looked around another neighbor, a man I had never met before, was in the house helping as well. The son in law I was staying with showed up a short time later and was soon hard at work as well. We did what we could in the remaining daylight and then decided to hit it again the next morning.
As we started the first full day of cleanup, the enormity of the task at hand finally started to sink in. Even with the crew from the night before this would take days to finish ripping out the carpet, rip out the damaged drywall and worst of all the wood flooring. There was no more room upstairs to put what wasn’t damaged and the hopelessness began to settle in again.
That’s when I received a call from the pastor of one of the churches nearby. He had heard what happened and would be over in a little while with the team he had put together to help with the floods in Louisiana a while back. What a team it was!
Thirty or so people showed up and started to work. They had trailers already loaded with needed tools and equipment. Everything from wet/dry vacs to drywall knives were there, organized and ready to go. The ladies and kids went upstairs to stack and reorganize what I had moved previously while another group started carrying more up. The men jumped in with knives and started tearing out the drywall. The youth group started ripping out the floors. They spent the rest of the day working on my house and getting 90+% of the tear out done. Work that would have taken us weeks on our own was almost completed and much needed knowledge of what to do next was passed on.
Once the team arrived, my neighbors moved onto see if they could help others, of course there were plenty more to help. Once the church team got started on my house the pastor began walking the neighborhood to identify who else needed assistance. By the next day their numbers had doubled and they had two sets of teams working in different areas.
My Mom and daughter showed up partway through the day with pizza for the crew at my house and for our neighbors. They bought out everything the local Domino’s could make and passed it out to those who were helping and those who were flooded in the neighborhood.
Dinner also arrived from a member of our church and it became a community meal (by flashlight) for those flooded and those helping.
Since then meals have been provided from various sources throughout the day so those working to save what they can of their lives and the neighbors who are helping them can be fed and not lose focus on the work. A tent was set up around the corner to provide snacks and drinks for folks, neighbors and church groups have literally been walking the streets passing out food and drinks to any who wanted or needed them. Cleanup supplies (unavailable in the few stores that are still open) are being distributed.
God is good, even in these difficult times.
As much as this storm cost us financially, I will never forget the blessings it has brought. The outpouring of help and caring has been incredible. This disaster has transformed our neighborhood into a community. Folks around here have truly been the “hands and feet of Jesus.”
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these…
There is still a lot to do. There are still a lot of folks needing help. Not all communities banded together as we did but through it all there have been some amazing blessings. It has also helped restore a bit of my faith in humanity…