By Sandra Hea, Ministry Opportunity Developer
During the 2013 southern Alberta floods, I had the opportunity to enter a flood zone with some guests to see how Samaritan’s Purse operates in the field. What we saw was the wonderful work of Samaritan’s Purse-and I’d like to share our experience with you.
Volunteers began at the Disaster Relief Unit each morning (a specially equipped tractor trailer that serves as ‘home-base’ for staff and volunteers), getting equipped with supplies, materials, T -shirts, masks, and prayer. From there, they were dispatched to a neighborhood to put in nine hours of really hard work under the supervision of a gifted team leader.
On the day of our visit, my guests and I learned about the response of Samaritan’s Purse to the disaster, and how volunteers and team leads are trained, equipped, and sent into the field to work. We learned how Samaritan’s Purse determines which communities get assistance, how long they stay (until the work is done), which are the priority homes (the elderly and single parents), what materials are used (safety materials and non-toxins), how assistance is offered (by going door to door to ensure that every homeowner has the opportunity to get assistance), how safety of staff and volunteers is maintained, and what determines job completion (when the property is clean and ready for rebuild).
The first house we visited was a complete gut job. All the floors and walls-to about one foot from the ceiling-had been removed and it was hard to find a space where people were not moving, dragging, or destroying something! When I spoke with the team lead that evening, he said the entire home was now ready for cleaning and mold abatement. Very impressive!
We walked down the street to another home where an older couple lived, and we learned that the husband was on dialysis. They were quite overwhelmed with their circumstances. There was a lot of damage and mud was everywhere-in the front yard, on the sides of the home and in the back yard. We could see that about four feet of water had been in the back yard because the green shrubs were all brown.
Tom, the homeowner, came around the side of the house, walking with a cane. He was happy to see us and sat on a chair that someone had found him. The Rapid Response Team chaplain who was with us said, “Thank you for allowing us to be in your home to work on it.” Tom replied, “I appreciate you being here and doing this for us; I am so grateful. Really, I do not have words to express my gratitude. I am so appreciative. If I knew I would meet such wonderful people, I would have ordered the disaster 20 years ago.”
That’s when I stepped away to hold back my tears.
What an honor we at Samaritan’s Purse have, to serve people in need. Really, there is no better feeling than to serve God and be ‘The Good Samaritan.’
Help Samaritan’s Purse strengthen the impact of local churches in communities recovering in the aftermath of disasters. As caring Christians are trained and empowered to walk alongside individuals and families to find solutions to complex needs, God opens doors to share the Gospel.