|A line of us shoveling sand into sandbags, at the old Missouri Valley Middle School. More pics below.|
This morning I was in Missouri Valley, IA helping the community fill sandbags to fight the coming flood. Less than twenty-fours before, some of us staff came together to plan how we could get people to go help in the effort. It was spearheaded by Lead Pastor Mark Ashton and Missions Pastor Craig Walter. They got a call from the pastor of Grace Community Fellowship*, in Missouri Valley, IA, who asked for help.
Just watching and listening to the news of the floods has been hard for me to comprehend. I see the pictures, but it doesn’t resonate. I wanted to help, but I also wanted to see it firsthand. I don’t want to gloss over a crisis that is affecting part of the Omaha area.
Roughly forty of us headed from Christ Community Church to Missouri Valley, IA. On the drive north, we saw fields next to I-29 that were completely flooded. Missouri Valley has experienced flooding before, in 1993, but this expected to be much worse.
We joined up with other volunteers from the community and surrounding area, and some other CCC people that met up with us there. In all, there were roughly 400 of us helping to fill sandbags. Cars lined one side of the streets all around the old Missouri Valley Middle School. Soon, the other side of the streets had palettes of sandbags lining them.
The work wasn’t bad. The only thing to deal with was the heat since it was suppose to be close to 100 degrees today.
I started off working with coworkers and people I knew from CCC. We were having fun, telling jokes and just conversing about whatever. Later on in the morning, I moved to another group of people. These were people from the community. The tone was a bit more serious. Not that people weren’t talking and smiling, but it wasn’t as jovial. It’s their community. Their livelihood is threatened.
For about an hour, I was working with Gavin Johnson. He’s one of the Teaching Pastors at CCC. We’d fill a sandbag, and then I’d hand it off. A local middle-school girl, Anna, would hand me another bag to fill with sand. I was thinking about her, and other students, who will have to deal with the flood for the next few months. This area is expecting to deal with flooding for a minimum of two months, and it could last till December. A guy next to me played high school football in the area, I think Missouri Valley, and he was saying all their games this fall are going to be on the road because their field will be flooded.
I’ve heard some make the comment that people should have moved long ago if they lived on a flood plain. Yeah, that would be ideal. For many, though, these communities are their homes. For the students and kids, it’s not like they have a say in the matter. I think some people need to be careful about condescension and condemnation for those who live in a flood plain. It’s not like everyone has means to up and move to a new area.
I managed to talk to Brad Westercamp, the pastor of Grace Community Fellowship, for about ten minutes. One thing Brad has done is gather up boxes to give away to people. As you can guess, people are in need of boxes to pack up their things as they move. He has a “free boxes” sign in front of his church which stacks of boxes. He’s trying to help and serve in practical ways.
Brad shared with me about the community. There are a number of poor in the area. Alcoholism and meth are issues in the area. However, there are also those that are wealthy, who live there and work in Omaha. Very apparent extremes in a town with 3,600 people.
Brad is aware of the potential long term effects the flood could have on the area. I hope it was helpful for the community to see so many people to rally to this area and help serve. For those of us that came, I hope we don’t forget about the community.
The drive home took me through the heart of Missouri Valley. You saw businesses that had been around for generations, like the Dairy Den. You also saw sandbags at various points along the way. After a morning of filling sandbags, I just hoped and prayed.
You can still help and serve in the coming days and weeks. Eric Carpenter is our contact person here at the church, and if you’d like to help you can contact him. My guess is CCC will be involved in some way for awhile.
And, please pray for those who are, and will be, affected by the floods.
|When I went to check-in on Foursquare, in Missouri Valley, this is what came up first.|
|I had some sand in my shoes after a morning of filling sandbags.|