ANDERSON, Ind. — The rains came and the waters rose. The relentless, rising water on Colorado’s Front Range in the end swept up roads, houses and lives in what proved to be catastrophic flooding. The disastrous deluge swept through Lyons, Longmont and Boulder, Colo., the week of Sept. 9. A month later, it was still a devastating situation when Anderson volunteers arrived to help out.
Members of Anderson’s Faith Church set out for Colorado on Oct. 6. Associate Pastor of Outreach Carl Lamb and church members Steven Beverly, Dale Smith and Steve Smith were on a single mission.
“We go out there to represent Christ … with acts of kindness and compassion,” said Lamb.
The foursome made the trip under the umbrella and leadership of the Convoy of Hope, a national faith-based organization that seeks to bring help and hope to people in need. Disaster response is among their missions.
“It’s really hard to explain. When you go, people are so frustrated and distressed,” said volunteer Steven Beverly. “Just showing up there, lending them a hand … There’s just something really special about that.” Beverly noted that communities stricken with disaster get a lot of attention in the first two or three weeks. After that, there’s less support, but the victims are still reeling from and coping with the devastation.
“It was important to me to go on this trip to show them God cares for them and I’m there because of it,” said Beverly.
When the Anderson contingent arrived in Colorado, prepared to camp out if necessary, Lamb described what they found, “A lot of desperation, a lot of hopelessness.”
The team spent four days pitching in every which way they could, working with guidance from Convoy of Hope volunteer service director Nick Wiersma. Lamb said it’s not a matter of making judgments about what needs to happen.
“You just go in and say, ‘What do you want?’ And we do that,” said Lamb. He recalled a home where a pair of elderly woman were coping with a house that had been completely flooded.
“We just began to go through their things one item at a time,” said Lamb. In all, the Anderson crew worked on 15 properties, one of which was a church. They ripped out wet drywall, sorted out belongings, mucked out basements and removed debris. “You see all kinds of damage, all kinds of needs.”
When the task at hand is accomplished, Lamb said, “We always offer to pray for them.” He said they’ve never been turned down. “It’s just amazing how much healing, how much hope is restored.”
Lamb said that since 2005, Faith Church has participated in 14 disaster response trips. The first time came in the wake of hurricane Katrina.
About two years ago, the church, a congregation of about 375 members, formally established a volunteer base of about 65 church members willing to participate in disaster relief. About half of them have already deployed.
“We just stay prepared,” said Lamb.
Last spring, the disaster scene was close to home with flooding in Elwood and Kokomo. Disaster teams have also dispatched to Henryville, Ind., as well as Oklahoma and New Jersey in response to hurricanes and tornadoes.
“It’s an honor. It’s a privilege to do it. To represent Christ that way – we love it,” said Lamb.