Volunteers bring relief in Jesus' Name to a neighborhood devastated by floodingVolunteer in Louisiana
“Why are you called Samaritan’s Purse?” Elaine asked. The Louisiana homeowner wanted to know why an army of volunteers in orange shirts had come to her home to help after this summer’s flooding.
So Dee, a Samaritan’s Purse volunteer and Site Leadership Team member, propped her broom against the wall, sat down on a plastic container in the living room, and began to explain.
Dee shared with Elaine about the parable Jesus told of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10). They read the Scripture together, and Dee and her crew of volunteers encouraged Elaine and prayed with her.
Being displaced after the flooding was especially hard on Elaine’s 12-year-old son, who is autistic and recently diagnosed with epileptic seizures.
“Before all this happened we were just starting to get into a normal schedule,” the single mother said. “The flood threw everything off. My son keeps asking, ‘When are we moving back? When can we go home?’”
Residents across south Louisiana asked—and some are still asking—similar questions after the flooding, as more than 100,000 homes throughout 20 parishes were affected. In addition to Lafayette, Samaritan’s Purse also has deployment sites in East Baton Rouge and Ascension parishes. (Editor’s note: Our Lafayette response will end this week, but the other two sites are still accepting volunteers.)
Water sat in Elaine’s home for one week, and by the time it receded almost everything inside was ruined. Elaine and her son have bounced from one family member’s house to the next as they wait to move back into their home.
“There was so much running through my head—what am I going to do? Who is going to help me?” she said. She was truly grateful for the response of our team in her time of need.
So far, our volunteers have spent nearly 66,500 hours assisting more than 750 homeowners across all three sites. Not only do our staff and volunteers bring physical relief, but they also bring the hope and peace of Jesus Christ. Among our three bases of operation, 216 people have come to faith in Jesus through the witness of Samaritan’s Purse and Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains.
Faithful to Respond to God’s Call
Seeing the Gospel change lives is why Dee volunteers with Samaritan’s Purse. In Lafayette, she had opportunity to share the Gospel with Mark, who told her he didn’t know if he would go to heaven or hell when he died.
As Dee and her team gutted out Mark’s home, they got to know him, his two siblings, and his mom, Louise. After Dee shared the Gospel, Mark prayed to receive Christ. “That’s what it’s all about. It’s about people needing Christ,” Dee said.
Before Dee left that day she asked, “Mark, where are you going when you die?” and this time he smiled big and replied, “Heaven.”
Dee’s first volunteer experience with Samaritan’s Purse came seven years ago when we deployed to Dallas, Georgia, and her church served as host church for our response. Dee answered the phones and helped take work orders from homeowners devastated by the flooding.
“I kept seeing all these people coming in dirty, muddy, grungy, and they smelled terribly. But they were all smiling and had really awesome stories,” she said.
When Dee learned that these volunteers were working alongside homeowners she had to join in, and now has her own stories to tell of God’s faithfulness.
Dee points to Isaiah 6 as part of God’s calling her to serve during disaster and crisis. “I said, ‘Send me, Lord. Here I am.’”
Neighbors Stand Together
Dee and her team met and served a number of homeowners in Elaine’s neighborhood, including Delilah, who suffered a massive heart attack a few years ago and almost died.
The National Guard rescued Delilah from the floodwaters, but that was just one part of her ordeal. She said the rancid odor due to sewage backup would become almost as horrifying as the rising water.
“It was nauseating. Even homes not flooded—people couldn’t come back because of the smell.”
Despite the fact that most homes in their neighborhood required a mud-out, God brought good out of devastation.
“Many of us did not know each other—people here are busy,” Delilah explained. “The flood brought us together as a neighborhood. Everyone was reaching out.”
Delilah lives alone and described our volunteers as God’s angels because “many people had no one to turn to. I can’t thank you enough.”
“I waited until the last minute [to leave] because I didn’t think it would be this bad,” Joann said. “I wasn’t able to take anything. I grabbed a few little things.”
Joann’s husband died three years ago. She is staying with her daughter for now because the flood destroyed most of her furniture and belongings.
Joann couldn’t believe how hard our volunteers worked in her home.
“If it wasn’t for you guys, I don’t know what we would do—this is a lot of work,” she said. “I appreciate it so much. It’s a blessing.”