CARRIE, Ky. — Dwayne Slone summed up the feelings of many homeowners in Carrie, Ky., about the disaster relief teams from Tennessee who have provided flood recovery assistance since torrential floods struck the area in late July. “They were God-sent,” he said.
Slone’s home is one of more than 150-plus homes that have received help or are still awaiting teams to clean out their homes which were affected by the flooding in July and early August.
Another homeowner, Pam Bates, said her family was overwhelmed after the flooding.
“We didn’t know what to do and we could not get any help.” Bates heard about the Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers who were staying at Montgomery Baptist Church and contacted them for help. “I know it was God. To Him be the glory,” she said.
Brent Smith, pastor of Montgomery Baptist Church, agreed with the local residents. The volunteers have been “an absolute blessing” to the church and the community,” he said.
“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves … and that we are to be the hands and feet of Jesus,” the pastor said. That bunch (the DR volunteers) have done just that, he affirmed. “I have seen them pray with people. … They have been faithful, available and teachable,” Smith added.
Both Smith and Kaye Thomas, who along with her husband, John, served as onsite coordinators at MBC for the first three-plus weeks, believe it was it no accident that the teams ended up at the church. The Thomases originally went to another proposed site but continued flooding was making it dangerous to stay there, so they drove until they saw Montgomery Baptist Church, where they were welcomed with open arms, Kaye Thomas said.
“It is a God-thing that we ended up here,” she affirmed. “In every disaster, God shows out. He is in control.”
She shared the story of how water had gotten into the church but it stopped at the entrance of the sanctuary. Smith acknowledged that the sanctuary was spared. “It was as if God said that the water can’t get by this point.”
Also, early on, the church had no electricity and the power poles were on the ground. “I went into the church and the cross in the baptistry was still lit. I can’t explain it. It was of God.”
Church members worked hard to get the water out of the other areas so volunteers could have access to the facilities. “We told the volunteers that what we had was theirs to use,” Smith said.
“The church has cooperated fully with us, giving us the entire church for housing, including the sanctuary,” Thomas said.
“The pastor and his wife were there every day to see if they could help us in any way. Members of the church manned the distribution center and other members distributed donated food into the community. “It was a very good working relationship between the church and TBDR,” she said.
As of Aug. 24, DR teams had completed 85 jobs with 71 more to be completed. Teams had contributed 3,206 manhours and 829 equipment hours, she said.
More importantly, Thomas added, there have been 18 professions of faith and three rededications.
Jim Teague, a volunteer chaplain from Red Bank Baptist Church, Chattanooga, noted residents have been receptive “about letting us talk to them about Jesus. … We have sowed the seed,” he said.
Teague noted that the residents all expressed appreciation for the work done by the Red Bank team. “They needed a sense of hope.” he said.
Pastor Smith acknowledged that the last month has been traumatic. “I know it’s bad,” he said. “But, we are never without hope. As long as we have God, we have more than enough to build back and overcome.”
He again thanked Tennessee DR volunteers. “They are top-notch. They are doing it (the recovery work) for God’s intention, not for man’s attention.”
Thomas estimated teams will be needed through September. Interested volunteers are encouraged to contact Wes Jones, disaster relief specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Individuals interested in donating to disaster relief can visit tndisasterrelief.org/contributions and click on Kentucky flood relief.