A New Start

February 7, 2011 • United States

A reconstruction project in Nashville helps homeowners recover from floods

When floods struck the streets of Nashville in May 2010, six families on Lagrange Drive didn’t know when, or if, they would be able to move back into their homes.

“It was devastating,” said William Beck, one of the homeowners. “You see it happen to other people, but I didn’t think it would ever happen to me.”

Those six families got a new start thanks to a Samaritan’s Purse program to reconstruct homes that were damaged from the flash flooding. Staff and volunteers worked on each of their homes, and on January 21 had a block party to welcome the homeowners into their newly finished houses.

“Samaritan’s Purse and those who have come in to help in this neighborhood were able to rebuild six homes to allow people to get their lives back to normal,” said Rick Cobb, deputy director of North American projects. “It’s just a blessing for us to be here and be able to do that.”

Mary Rapier was the first homeowner on Lagrange Drive to call Samaritan’s Purse for help. We arrived soon after her call.

“That was the beginning of a wonderful, wonderful relationship,” Rapier said. “I asked about helping the others in the community and of course it was open arms.”

The others were grateful when they heard Samaritan’s Purse would help. Volunteers stripped out ruined sheetrock and carpets, removed water-damaged items from the homes, rebuilt kitchens and bathrooms, and installed floors, drywall, electrical circuits, plumbing, windows, doors and lighting fixtures. Volunteers also painted and took on smaller projects like repairing tables. Many of the homeowners had started rebuilding their houses, but the money they had received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency had run out.

“They said they were going to do it free, and I was just elated over it,” Beck said.

Constance Wilson, another homeowner, said she thinks God sent Samaritan’s Purse at exactly the right time. After her money ran out, she was under a lot of pressure to finish the house she lives in with her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren, and she didn’t know where to turn for help.

Samaritan’s Purse did more than rebuild the homes. We also helped bring the neighborhood together. Homeowner Johnny King said that he is now a lot closer with his neighbors. Before the flood, he knew who the Rapiers were, but he never spoke to them. Now he talks to them on regular basis. He also thought that everyone in the community was encouraged.

“A lot of days you go around and you’re discouraged and then you see those orange T-shirts,” he said. “And they’re smiling and they’re working, so you couldn’t help but be uplifted because they’re doing this work for the Lord and you just know it.”

Rebuilding homes also led to amazing opportunities for volunteers to share the Gospel with neighbors. There were eight confessions of faith within the first week of Samaritan’s Purse working in the community.

“It was a moving thing because they prayed first and they said, ‘We’re going to get this back, and it’s going to be better than it was at first,’” Beck said. “And God knows it was. I’m a deacon in the church, and it really had a real impact on me.”

During the block party, the homeowners received Bibles, journals signed by all the volunteers who worked on their homes, and certificates showing the cost of the work to their homes with “paid in full” stamped at the bottom.

Samaritan’s Purse has sent over 330 volunteers to help in Nashville. We plan to continue working in Nashville until September 2011.