Flood Waters

Flood Waters

Flood Waters

In January 2005, storms swept through the northern part of West Virginia, dumping unprecedented amounts of rain. Flash flooding was widespread.  The water from overflowing creeks and streams poured into the Ohio River, causing it to rise above flood stage.  The river rose so high that storm drains in areas like Benwood and South Wheeling couldn’t discharge.  Instead, the water backed up steadily, filling streets, basements and homes. At the time I was pastor at a small church in South Wheeling.  I remember standing on the steps in front of the church and watching as the water inched its way closer and closer.  I knew I couldn’t stop the water, but I could be ready to help when the water finally receded. My wife and I hopped into a van and began a daylong trip gathering supplies.  We drove as far as Morgantown, W.Va., and Washington, PA to buy bleach, brooms, brushes, rags and other cleaning supplies.  When the people of South Wheeling were finally able to begin their cleanup, we were ready.  Our church was fully stocked with flood relief supplies that we freely gave away.  With a dedicated, hardworking group of volunteers, we spent nearly a week on the ground providing help to our neighbors.  We even served breakfast and a light lunch and provided a place for people in the neighborhood to gather, rest, talk and pray.  It was wonderful to know that we were being God’s hands and feet in this difficult time. Just last week the state was hit by another, even more devastating flood.  Over 40 counties have been declared disaster areas.  The photos of the communities affected by these flood waters are, to say the least, heartbreaking. You may be wondering what you and I can do.  May I offer these suggestions: HELP.  Especially if you live in or near the affected areas, you can provide helping hands for those who have suffered damage and loss as a result of the flooding.  If you’re coming from outside of these areas, it’s best to contact FEMA, the Red Cross or one of the other organizations that are coordinating relief efforts. GIVE.  If you possibly can, consider donating toward the relief and cleanup efforts.  My wife served as a volunteer with Red Cross, and if you don’t have any other relief organization in mind that’s certainly a good place to start.  There are many other churches and reputable relief organizations that already have mobilized and sent teams to help with the cleanup.  Do your homework and give as God leads you to give. PRAY.  I can’t overestimate the power of prayer.  Especially in times like this, we should come together in prayer to remember, encourage and empower our neighbors who are facing tragic loss.  Whether it’s in a large group setting or a quiet moment alone with God, please take time to pray. When President Kennedy spoke here in 1963, he observed that, having come out of the Civil War, our state was “born to turmoil” and faced its share of challenges.  But then he added a personal observation:  “I know of no state…whose people feel more strongly, who have a greater sense of pride in themselves, in their state and in their country, than the people of West Virginia.”  I, too, am a proud West Virginian, and I know that we will rally together as we face this latest challenge.  I also know that, with God’s help, we will heal and we will face the future with an even greater strength and sense of pride.