When the Cherry River started to rise in Richwood, W.Va., Rena Gee knew it was time to call her grandson for help.
North Carolina Baptists prepare to tackle flood recovery efforts in West Virginia. Volunteers are needed for the more than 150 jobs that have already been requested.
When he arrived at her house, the water in Gee’s yard was knee deep and getting higher by the minute. Her grandson carried her to his vehicle, and together, they fled the rising water to safety.
It was the beginning of epic flooding in the small town.
Since June 24, North Carolina Baptist Men, also known as Baptists on Mission (NCBM), has been ministering in several towns and communities in Nicholas County, W.Va. Torrential storms dumped up to 10 inches of rain in a 12-hour period in late June, causing massive flooding to many parts of the Mountaineer State.
“The water just came up so fast,” Gee remembered. “I have never before seen anything like it. In hardly no time, it knocked down my chain-link fence and was into my house.”
In light of the flooding in the area, NCBM has been working alongside other relief organizations to distribute food, assess and repair damaged homes, and provide chaplaincy services in Nicholas County. As NCBM volunteers help the flood victims put their lives back in order, they are also sharing the love of Christ.
“The needs here are so great,” said Bill Fogarty, site commander for the efforts in West Virginia. “We know that the God of all comfort, as scripture describes, will comfort them in ways that we can’t, but we try to be His hands and feet.”
Already, NCBM has received 150 recovery job requests, and Gee’s house is one of them. After Gee and her grandson evacuated, the NCBM disaster relief volunteers cleared her yard of the debris when floodwaters receded. Then, they turned their attention to the inside of Gee’s house, beginning the heartbreaking process of throwing out everything damaged by the floodwaters.
A washing machine and dryer, refrigerator and freezer, kitchen cabinets, bathroom fixtures, furniture, carpets, hardwood flooring and plaster walls were piled high in front of Gee’s house. West Virginia National Guard troops had begun making pickups of Gee’s trashed belongings and hauling them to the town dump.
Richard Brunson, executive director of NCBM, said volunteers are still needed for the ongoing relief efforts in West Virginia.
“We need a lot of volunteers to help with the recovery jobs requests,” Brunson said. “There are many hurting people in West Virginia who need our prayers and our help.”
Individuals may sign up to volunteer, make a donation and receive updates on the relief efforts through a special portal on NCBM’s website available at baptistsonmission.org/wvflood.
Gaylon Moss, who serves as NCBM’s disaster relief director, said funds received through the annual North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) make disaster relief efforts like those currently underway in West Virginia possible.
“There’s no way we can be prepared for disaster response without training and acquiring equipment and resources for when the time comes,” Moss said. “The NCMO helps us to be prepared through the resources it provides us.”
As for Gee, she is safe, staying with her daughter in a nearby community.
“I cannot begin to thank these wonderful [NCBM volunteers] for everything they have done so far,” Gee said. “They are a real blessing to us.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – NCBM contributed reporting to this article.)