N.C. Baptists help West Virginia flood victims
Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor
May 26, 2009

N.C. Baptists help West Virginia flood victims

N.C. Baptists help West Virginia flood victims
Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor
May 26, 2009

N.C. Baptists are learning to help people who usually shy away from outside influences.

The area of West Virginia hit by floods after heavy rainfall May 10-11 is particularly family oriented, said Tommy Styers, who is overseeing N.C. Baptist disaster relief efforts in Mingo County. Folks who usually don’t want help from anyone other than family are letting volunteers come in and clean out their homes, he said.

Styers said that the workers are witnessing and sharing the gospel with the flood victims.

“And they’re receptive,” he said.

The pastor at Freedom Full Gospel Assembly House of Prayer, where the N.C. Baptist volunteers are based, told them about the difference they are making. The minister said he’d been talking to one man for three years. After the volunteers worked at his house one day, the man was talking about going to church, Styers said.

“It’s opening up avenues to help (the church) reach people after we’re done,” he said.

Many of the 2,500 structures reportedly destroyed or severely damaged by floodwaters are in Mingo County. Gov. Joe Manchin told the Charleston Daily Mail that 80 percent of the businesses in Gilbert, where N.C. Baptists are concentrating their efforts, were “wiped out.”

Styers arrived in West Virginia May 21 for an 8-day stay. In addition to being in charge of the relief efforts, he’s been cooking breakfast for team members.

“When I get a break, I clean the bathrooms and carry the trash out,” he said.

Ten N.C. Baptist workers were in West Virginia on May 26 with six others on the way.

Gaylon Moss, who oversees N.C. Baptist disaster relief efforts for N.C. Baptist Men, said about 30 N.C. Baptists from all over the state have worked about 200 volunteer days in West Virginia. Volunteers are expected to continue to work in Gilbert, W.Va., for a couple weeks more, he said.

“It is one of the hardest hit areas,” he said.

Ron Gooden from Hebron Baptist Church in Statesville was overseeing the efforts from about May 13 to May 22, according to Moss.

The workers have completed 28 tasks out of the 76 requests they’ve received, Styers said.

The jobs are called “mud-outs” but Styers said many of them involve crawling under trailers to remove water-soaked insulation and ductwork. Others require the removal of sheetrock and flooring that was damaged by water.

“We’re all flexible,” Styers said. “We do what we need to do.”

Styers said he can see the Lord’s hand in the teams’ work.

“It works so good whenever the need is there and there’s somebody there that the Lord has put there who can do what needs to be done,” he said.