On June 30th, we headed out from Ravenna with a team of four men to travel to White Sulphur Springs, WV. The area had been devastated by flood waters, and the White Sulphur Springs First Church of God had been severely damaged.
It was heartbreaking as we took the exit at Hart’s Run, near White Sulphur Springs, and saw vehicles mangled and sitting in the river. Businesses were pulling ruined merchandise out into parking lots.
When we arrived at the church it was shocking to see the damage. All of the church furnishings were in piles outside the building. The National Guard was using heavy equipment to haul it all away.
We were not the first team to help. By the time we got there the pews and carpets, and all of the furniture had been removed. We got busy tearing out drywall, and pulling the soaking wet insulation out of the walls. Part of the brick wall on the front of the church had collapsed, and we had to tear down most of the wall for safety. The roof of the church had buckled and will be costly to repair. The kitchen portion of the building had separated from the fellowship hall.
We worked through the day on Thursday until about 9:30 pm, and returned on Friday for a full day of work. The building needed time to dry out, and the congregation needed to make some decisions about what they were going to do.
Friday night a couple from our congregation joined us, and on Saturday morning we travelled to the Richwood First Church of God. The town of Richwood was one of the hardest hit areas. A we drove down into the town it looked like a war zone. Roads were blocked. Police, rescue workers, volunteers, and the people of the town were everywhere.
Most of the damage to the Richwood church was in the basement, where the water had gotten over seven feet deep. Everything was covered with mud. The fellowship hall, which is a separate building next door was also badly flooded. The drywall and insulation had to be removed throughout that building.
When we arrived at the church there were two men working in the front of the church. One was driving a front loader, and the other was shoveling mud from in front of the church. When I introduced myself to them and told them we had come from Ravenna to help them, the man on the front loader said, “You are a miracle from God.” He told us that they had been working so hard, and did not know how they were going to get it all done.
Our team worked hard all day, shoveling, scrubbing, spraying, and lifting buckets of mud out of the basement. We tore up carpet from the stairs, and used large squeegees to push the water to a sump pump.
The furnace and water heater were in the basement, and will need to be replaced. The cost of repairs to the fellowship hall will also be expensive.
When the day was over the two men and a woman from the church, who had been working for days, told us that we were “Miracles sent from God.” I could not have been more proud of a team of hardworking people.
On Sunday we returned to Ravenna, after making a stop in Rainelle, WV, where I pastored for ten years. Tears ran down my face as I saw piles and piles of the belongings of people I had ministered to all along the streets. Businesses in town have been destroyed.
We stopped at the church, and spoke with Pastor Bob Daniels, and several of the folks I know and love from the congregation. The people are working hard to rebuild. There is still much to be done all over the state. If you can take any time to help, please contact Thom Pratt from the Teays Valley Church of God. He is coordinating teams to help in the rebuilding. His number is 304-415-6198.