Volunteers Helping in Flooded Oklahoma

June 5, 2019 • United States
Volunteers shovel out waterlogged debris from the flooded home of Chester McLaughlin in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, where more than 1,000 homes were flooded last week.
Volunteers shovel out waterlogged debris from the flooded home of Chester McLaughlin in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, where more than 1,000 homes were flooded last week.

Our teams are serving in Jesus’ Name as homeowners begin to return to flooded homes in Sand Springs and surrounding communities.

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  • Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen met with volunteers in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.
    Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen met with volunteers in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.

Chester McLaughlin came home last week to the heartbreaking sight of his house in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, where the Arkansas River overflowed and flooded more than 1,000 residences.

Many of these homes were under feet of water, including Chester’s, where Samaritan’s Purse volunteers have been busy helping to remove damaged walls and flooring and salvaging precious belongings.

Waterlogged valuables such as shelving and mattresses had to be removed from Chester's home.

Waterlogged valuables such as shelving and mattresses had to be removed from Chester’s home.

For more than four days Chester watched his street, his home, and his neighborhood slowly fill with the water that was released from the Keystone dam. He and his neighbors stood at a high point across the river and watched helplessly as the flood waters rose to porches, then to windows, and then several feet into homes.

“I was feeling utter desperation,” Chester said. “It really put me in probably the darkest place I’ve ever been. I thought I might as well just walk away from it.”

The 24-year decorated Air Force veteran moved from California back home to Oklahoma after losing his wife to cancer 15 years ago.

“My emotions run away with me,” he said of the years since his wife’s death. “Sometimes I lose it.”

Chester received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior this week as volunteers worked on his home.

Chester received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior this week as volunteers worked on his home.

Seeing our teams remove waterlogged belongings and clean up the sopping insides of his property, McLaughlin caught a glimmer of a hopeful future. During conversations with our volunteers, he received God’s love for him. He prayed to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

At the end of our work at his home, our teams presented him with a Billy Graham Study Bible signed by the volunteers, a keepsake he’ll cherish and turn to for wisdom and comfort during the these difficult days and weeks.

“I have no words,” Chester said. “Every time I read it, I’ll remember the biggest part of all of you.”

Since the beginning of our response in Oklahoma last week, we’ve received more than 140 work orders. More than 130 volunteers have joined our efforts in Sand Springs. We thank God two people, including Chester, have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Chester is a 24-year Air Force veteran who moved back home to Oklahoma after losing his wife to cancer.

Chester is a 24-year Air Force veteran who moved back home to Oklahoma after losing his wife to cancer.

Our volunteers have come from across the United States but they also include local believers and church leaders around Sand Springs like Chad Ketcher, a youth pastor at nearby Reach Church. He came out to serve with his teenage son Brendon.

“Hope comes in the form of people who are willing to stand beside you,” Chad said. “We serve people like Chester because Chester needed us. He needed the conversations, the hugs, the laughs, the smiles. He needed Jesus to be in the flesh. Knowing your Bible verses is great, but if you don’t love people where they’re at then they won’t be drawn to Jesus.”

Please continue to pray for hurting homeowners, for our staff and volunteer teams, and for the work that continues after severe spring storms devastated many midwestern communities.

We now have two deployment locations in Oklahoma, one in the Tulsa area and one in the Muskogee area.

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U.S. Disaster Relief Samaritan's Purse mobilizes and equips thousands of 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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