Finding Hope in the Wake of Wisconsin Floods

September 11, 2018 • United States
Samaritan's Purse volunteers remove waterlogged walls and floors after south central Wisconsin was inundated with widespread flooding.
Samaritan's Purse volunteers remove waterlogged walls and floors after south central Wisconsin was inundated with widespread flooding.

A young mother comes to faith in Christ as Samaritan’s Purse volunteers clean out her mud-soaked house.

U.S. Disaster Relief

Samaritan’s Purse volunteers gave Amber Schell something more to remember on her birthday than just the flood that devastated her home and much of her neighborhood. While working on her house in the community of La Valle, Wisconsin, they brought her the hope of Jesus Christ.

Site Team Leaders Henry and Mary Kook present Amber Schell with a Bible signed by all the volunteers who worked on her home.

Site Team Leaders Henry and Mary Koch present Amber Schell with a Bible signed by volunteers who worked on her home.

As our team cleaned mud and debris out her house and cleaned up her property, they shared words of encouragement. Some of our volunteers talked and played with Amber’s three young daughters—Sheayla, 11; Ayihanna, 6; and Whittney, 3. Team leaders took the time to explain why it was so important to remove the mold from their twice-flooded basement.

On her birthday, our volunteers sang to Amber and celebrated with a brownie birthday cake. Amber wiped away tears of joy.

“I woke up feeling pretty down,” she said. “When you sang happy birthday to me, gave me cake, and made me feel super special given the circumstances, that was just awesome. It was very nice of you guys.”

But the celebration was far from over. The very next day, Amber received an even more special gift, one with eternal significance. She received new life in Jesus Christ.

‘I Felt Overwhelmed’

During her childhood, Amber grew up in a church community. More recently, with her world spinning around her, the single mom hadn’t found the time to go church.

God directed the steps of our team, bringing our volunteers to the neighborhood where Amber has lived for the past three years. When she saw our team working on a neighbor’s house, she asked for help.

“I didn’t have time to go and find a cleaning crew,” Amber explained. “I looked into getting one but they were already booked. I felt overwhelmed, so it was really nice that Samaritan’s Purse came. It’s been a blessing.”

Our team lead, Mary Koch, who was serving with her husband Henry on their 22nd deployment with Samaritan’s Purse since 2012, immediately identified with Amber. Mary, too, had been a single mom.

“At first, Amber could hardly talk,” Mary said. “As we got to know each other, though, she started opening up and telling me about the difficulties she’d been through. As we talked later, I got to share some of my testimony story of what God had done in my life.”

Volunteer in Wisconsin

The next day, Cindy John, a Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplain, was able to explain the Gospel to Amber, and she prayed to receive Christ as her Savior and Lord. “It really made sense,” Amber said.

After receiving a Billy Graham Study Bible signed by each volunteer after their work was completed, Amber said: “I was in awe over it. It was really nice of them to think of me. And they didn’t know me until now. That’s pretty amazing.”

Our teams have had to adapt throughout this deployment in south central Wisconsin. As we do after flooding, we identify homes where we think we can help, clean out everything that has been waterlogged, and spray to prevent mold. In this case, additional rains caused the Baraboo River to flood for a second time. Water quickly rose and rushed back into peoples’ basements.

So our teams started filling sandbags and distributing them to homeowners we had already helped as well as to other community residents. “I appreciate everybody and the help of these good people,” said Jodi Drier, one of those local residents we served in Jesus’ Name. “This is much more help than I had the first time it flooded. I know things will be OK.”

To date, Samaritan’s Purse volunteers have assisted 18 families in Sauk County, Wisconsin. Please pray for our continuing work as area residents recover from bouts of flooding.

U.S. Disaster Relief Samaritan's Purse mobilizes and equips thousands of disaster relief volunteers to provide emergency aid to U.S. victims of wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. In the aftermath of major storms, we often stay behind to rebuild houses for people with nowhere else to turn for help.

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