Samaritan’s Purse is responding to one of the hardest hit towns in Colorado after flooding destroyed the entire community
They left in the middle of the night with little more than the clothes on their backs. June and Charles Stacy were among the many residents in the town of Lyons, Colo., forced to evacuate in mid-September as catastrophic flood waters ripped through their community.Donate to U.S. Disaster Relief“It’s devastating. Never seen anything like it,” said 80-year-old Charles, who compared the flood damage to that of a tornado or earthquake. “Everything is just all shook up. It’s not just water. Everything moved.”
One glance around the neighborhood, let alone their yard, and it’s hard to believe a flood is what caused the kind of destruction Charles and June are dealing with. A BMW, once parked on the street in front of a house, is now plunged into the side of the home next door. Charles’ metal shed has been relocated to someone else’s yard, and more than a foot of mud has invaded their yard and inside their home.
With roads completely destroyed, power lines and the sewer systems damaged, and the water system contaminated with E. coli, there is no official pinpointed date for when residents can return home to stay. Charles said he has heard anywhere from six months to a year before they’d be allowed to move back into their home, which they had been renovating all year before the flood ruined all their hard work and investment.
The first day the elderly couple was allowed back into their home to work on salvaging belongings and do repairs, Samaritan’s Purse came with them. We began working in northern Colorado on September 18, and since then, volunteers have done everything from mudding out the house to ripping out the ruined drywall.
Focusing on the Details
While Samaritan’s Purse focuses a lot on typical big disaster cleanup tasks, we also remember the personal, smaller details are just as important.
Volunteer Kristen Lohe from West Field, Ind., traveled to Colorado after reading the call for help on the Samaritan’s Purse Facebook page. When she first met the homeowners and walked into their house, she noticed that there were some pictures in frames among the destruction.
“I asked [June] if she wanted me to try to salvage them. She said, ‘I don’t think you can save them, but you can try,’” Kristen said. “They were soaking. You picked one up and it was just dripping.”
But Kristen and a few other volunteers dedicated all their time over the course of a couple of days to laying these irreplaceable belongings on a black tarp outside, hoping to at least keep a few photos for the couple.
“You can’t replace these,” she said. “If this happened to me, I’d want someone to do this for me too.”
What began as a couple of photos quickly turned into many folders and albums being saved by the volunteers. Kristen said June would periodically come check on their group with the biggest smile on her face as she talked about each photo. One of the photos they were able to save was June’s favorite picture of her son growing up.
“It’s different than shoveling mud outs and not what I thought I’d be doing, but I’m glad I came and I’m glad I’m here,” Kristen said. “I love that Samaritan’s Purse takes time to do this.”
Charles and June were familiar with Samaritan’s Purse from, receiving the monthly newsletters and staying up-to-date with the organization’s relief work all over the world. But they said they never thought that they’d actually be on the receiving end one day.
“We always send a check every month. It’s nothing much, but it’s what we can do,” Charles said. “We just didn’t expect to have a disaster ourselves.”
And even being surrounded by all the devastation around them and their neighbors, the couple can’t help but smile and talk with the volunteers. June was touched by a volunteer expressing how she had prayed all night for her, and Charles admitted that he doesn’t know what they’d do if it wasn’t for the help they were receiving now.
“It’s something we’ve never had before,” Charles said. “It’s hard to believe that people are going to do all this work for nothing anymore in this day and age. I think that’s really what God orders us to do—help our neighbors and do for them what they can’t do for themselves.”
With a smile on her face, June couldn’t help but agree.
“It gives you hope again,” she said. “I don’t know if we can ever repay you. We’re just so thankful.”