The Water Is Rising!
BETWEEN Thursday, December 2, and the following Sunday of last winter, rainstorms poured up to 15 inches (38 cm) of water on some places of the Mississippi Valley, U.S.A. The ground, already drenched from previous winter rains, could absorb no more. Rivers bloated. Dams, reservoirs and levees filled with angry waters. Left in the storm’s trail were 22 dead, 35,000 homeless, and 500 million dollars’ worth of damage through the three Midwestern states of Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas. “This kind of storm, the worst in a century,” said Governor James Thompson of Illinois, “just overwhelms what man can do.”
The floodwaters rose rapidly, surprising many. One man from Arnold, Missouri, evacuated his house at 2:00 a.m., Monday, when the floodwaters reached his driveway. He escaped by car but returned by rowboat. In less than eight hours, the waters climbed from his driveway to the roof of his one-story house!
From this widespread destruction came numerous stories of compassion. For example, in one inundated area near the city of St. Louis, Missouri, the Kingdom Hall of the Pacific Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses served as a hub for flood relief. Tuesday evening the city overseer for Jehovah’s Witnesses in St. Louis and congregation elders met at the Kingdom Hall with Witness families who suffered flood damage. This was to assure the flood victims of full support from fellow Witnesses. Each family received work sheets for them to list their losses and needs, such as furniture, appliances and clothing. A flood relief fund was established from contributions. On Thursday a team of Witnesses surveyed each home to determine the extent of flood damage and the amount of material required for repair. Next, a list of local Witnesses skilled in the construction trades was compiled.
That Saturday morning, converging at the Kingdom Hall were a hundred volunteer workers. The ordered building materials arrived too. All was ready for the reconstruction work. The volunteers were divided into two work teams. After a consideration of a Scriptural text and a prayer, the work started at 8:00 a.m.
Over a period of several days (in order to ensure drying from water damage), each work team did the following:
● Tore out paneling/Sheetrock and removed insulation.
● Installed new insulation, paneling/Sheetrock.
● Taped, finished and painted Sheetrock.
● Removed old flooring; installed moisture barrier.
● Installed new flooring and carpet.
Donated food, clothing and furniture brought to the Kingdom Hall was sorted and distributed to those in need. Volunteers soaked and laundered salvaged clothing, linens, curtains and other washable items. Pierre, a volunteer worker, said: “You felt an atmosphere of enthusiastic joy and willingness to help all around you.” His brother David added: “Young and old worked together. An eight-year-old boy piled wood and then helped me with the Sheetrock.” December 22 found most of the aided families back in their homes.
Such evidence of unselfish aid reminds Bible readers of a distinguishing mark of all true Christians—their willingness to help needy persons. “The kind of religion which is without stain or fault in the sight of God our Father is this: to go to the help of orphans and widows in their distress,” wrote the Christian disciple James.—James 1:27, The New English Bible.
[Picture on page 15]
Water-damaged paneling, insulation and flooring were torn out and replaced