Written by Sylvia St. Cyr
Church folks are getting their hands dirty in B.C. as they are physically helping people clear out their homes after the intense flooding last month.
Frank King is the News Media Relations Manager with Samaritans Purse Canada.
“Even as Christmas comes, Samaritans Purse has been crazy busy in British Columbia from the disastrous flooding in Abbotsford and also further north in the Merritt region,” says King. “We’re working through churches in those areas with volunteers.”
The team of volunteers has been working over the past couple of weeks cleaning out flooded homes and preparing them for repair. While Samaritans Purse is used to working on helping with flooded homes, they are not used to doing it in December in Canada.
“I just spent a few days in Abbotsford and there are some very severely damaged homes. A lot of the residents were already dealing with stuff going on, like a family member who was sick, work issues, or financial issues. Many are traumatized but grateful for us showing up.”
Hundreds of homes have been affected by the flash flooding that occurred on November 14 and 15. While some people are back in their homes in time for Christmas, many are still finding shelter elsewhere.
“The City of Abbotsford opened a Resiliency Centre and Emergency Shelter that they asked us to operate. We just closed down last week because most people have found other places to live, with family and friends or their church family. When we work with churches, we build up those churches in their communities.”
In Abbotsford, the Christian ministry is set up at Northview Community Church.
“The pastor said, ‘Our church members wanted to do something to help all these folks because some of their families have been affected, and then Samaritans Purse came along, experts in disaster relief. This is a perfect fit for our church.'”
They have also set up their Billy Graham Rapid Response Team Mobile Ministry Centre in the area. This allows their crisis-trained chaplains to help people emotionally and spiritually.
“Where God opens the doors, it also enables us to proclaim the gospel to these folks in a gentle, respectful, and loving way,” says King.
As of Saturday, the volunteers will stop working for the Christmas holidays and to take some much-needed rest. However, volunteers will start up again right after the New Year for what King believes to be at least another month.