On May 1st, 2010, Tennessee suffered what Wikipedia calls a 1,000-year flood. According to that website, some areas received up to 19 inches of rain over a two-day period. Thousands of homes were destroyed. Within hours after the rain stopped, Bethel World Outreach Center in Brentwood, Tenn., found Samaritan’s Purse crews on their doorstep. “They showed up in our parking lot with all their equipment on May 4th. The next day we started assessing the damage and setting up the cases,” says JT McCraw, a staff member at Bethel World Outreach and former homebuilder who headed the cooperative clean-up effort.
McCraw says Samaritan’s goal was to “muck out” and clean up so that builders could come in behind them and start building. “We removed the mud and muck, cut drywall straight and even, pull out the flooring and insulation, and spray for mold and mildew. Anything the water touched has to be removed because the river water has been rated high for e-coli bacteria.”
According to McCraw, the number of volunteers has been astounding. “Everyone says they’ve never seen anything like it,” he says. “God bless the volunteers who went in and helped and had never done that before. Thousands and thousands and thousands did that. One church reported 2,000 volunteers.”
Many of the hardest hit areas were low-income and elderly residences, and McCraw says although they’ve cleaned up hundreds of homes, only four or five families have flood insurance. In addition, he reports that many homeowners were even discouraged from buying flood insurance because they did not live in a flood plain. According to a recent Associated Press article there are about 8,000 flood-damaged homes outside the 100-year flood plain.
For the latest information on how churches can contribute to Samaritan’s Purse efforts in Nashville or volunteer their time, visit www.bwoc.org. View the Samaritan’s Purse website at www.samaritanspurse.org.