Helping After the Floods
from KotaPress & Lynda Lambert

Editor's note: The letter below is from Lynda Lambert, one of our KotaPress authors. She published the book "Concerti..." with us and has been a friend for a very long time. I encourage you to read, consider, and then help in whatever ways you can. [Editor's note continued at bottom of page...]

Hi Friends,

I am writing this update for those who have asked about what life is like for the flood victims on McKim Way, located in a rural area in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, on the banks of the Connoquenessing Creek in Franklin Township. These people have an Ellwood City address and the street is located about 2 miles just outside the city. It is now 3 1/2 weeks after the first flood hit the neighborhood. It's 2 1/2 weeks after the second one hit. Many of you have asked if "things are back to normal." I will try to respond to that question here.

Nothing is "normal" on McKim Way. It will be many months before the people on our road are anything near to normal again. People are still living in campers, eating over a campfire and trying to keep warm as the nights get cooler. They cannot live in their homes because they have to be completely gutted out and rebuilt inside.

It's not a matter of sorting anything out, as all is lost and must be created again.

After waiting nearly three weeks for some kind of "help" that never came, I had an idea one week ago that there was something I could do myself to help my neighbors. So, I initiated a short survey of the immediate needs of each family. I got two volunteers from Geneva College and two from the neighborhood to come help me and we went door to door on Wednesday. We determined what each family needs done in their homes, furniture needs, and anything else. We met with each family at their homes.

With the help of my friend Lori at Geneva College we got in a team of about 25 volunteers to begin working back that road on Thurs., Friday, and Saturday last week. The volunteers came from her church, the Chippewa Evangelical Free Church. It was a beautiful sight to see all those people pulling in, getting out buckets, sponges, mops, and carpenter equipment and then going off to help individual families. The volunteers are committed to the project and know it will be many weeks of work for them. The people are so happy that they have come to help them.

People have been working so hard since the floods hit that they even forget to eat. And, many are so depressed and at their wits end to know what to do. But, this little group has brought hope to them now. t's only the beginning. It will take months to get the work done. Yes, it's of that magnitude on our road of about 55 houses. ood is being brought in by individual people and from churches who go door to door giving it out to families every day. They make up bag lunches with sandwiches, fruit, home made cookies, and even hot soup and drinks. We are amazed at the generosity of these people and they bring their children along to help them distribute food and visit with the people. What a valuable lesson these children are learning as they watch their parents literally take on the scripture's injunctive to feed and care for those in need.

With the help of another friend at Geneva College, Dr. Paul Kilpatrick, we had four trucks of furniture come in and we got it all distributed just before the rain came. We have more trucks of furniture coming in next two weekends. Others at Geneva College have contributed monetary gifts, furniture and clothing. It's amazing what a few people can do once they get a vision to help. One prayer group at Geneva College even brought in dinner on Thursday evening and the neighbors stopped to tell me that it was delicious and to thank the people who brought it in to them. And, the school newspaper sent a reporter out to survey the neighborhood and a feature story about them appeared in this weeks' school paper. I am hoping other help will come through because more and more people are now learning about the McKim Way people who have lost nearly everything.

People don't need clothes, so please don't bring any out at this time. They need furniture, and helping hands to clean up the mess and to help rebuild. e are in desperate need of dumpsters as the debris mounts up. Some were brought in initially, filled up, and taken out. Many more were needed than were brought in. Every day we are waiting for them, yet nothing comes. The folks at the end of the road have not been able to get to the dumpsters that were brought in because the flood waters prevented them, and once the waters receded the dumpsters were gone. Folks have been burning all the debris they can burn, but the soaked building materials have to be hauled out and without dumpsters the debris just lay beside the road in heaps. It is unsightly, but most of all a real health hazard to the people there. We are hoping the township begins to do something to alleviate this serious problem.

While delivering the furniture yesterday, we found a little boy who will be 7 years old in two more weeks. His name is Seth. He and his sister Samantha live in a camper now outside their home and a bonfire outside to keep them warm since they cannot use the fireplace in their home due to structural damage. Their parents are Ron and Stephanie, and you have never met such lovely and gentle people. We immediately knew that when we deliver furniture on the 16th we will also be bringing Seth a birthday cake and some birthday surprises.

The family's dog is so stressed she has been pulling out her own fur. She is a beautiful Husky and so gentle. We have seen this happening in another dog along the road, as well. The animals are so stressed they are tearing their own fur out.

Thank you for your concern and I hope this gives you a better idea of what a flood is like. It is far more than just some water getting things wet inside a house. It completely upturns people's lives for a very long period of time. Please pray for helpers for the McKim Way families and for individual needs to be met in the coming weeks.

Lynda Lambert

Editor's note continued:
We know the story she shares here is the same for other areas, too, like Tarentum, Etna, Millvale, Shaler, and every other place that was hit the floods back East.  We've also heard of two moms in the Tarentum area who got together and did the same thing that Lynda writes about here, going from home to home to find out what people need.  And we heard about a fireman who helped with the cleanup in Carnegie -- trudging in sewage backed up water got an infection and died. We are so very sorry to hear of his death.   The sewage is another problem entirely, not merely the water!  And you can't believe how fast the mold takes hold and covers the damp surfaces!  We also heard about a school in Etna that closed its doors because the flood did so much damage that they can't get it 'fixed' and so now their teachers -- some who also lost their homes -- have no jobs!  And we are constantly thinking of how many lost everything in Florida, having been hit so many times!

It is a sad story especially when you hear about the government grants -- for those who 'qualify' -- many don't -- and if they do, they might get as much as a few thousand dollars. Or the 'low interest' government loans you can apply for -- now explain to me HOW someone who has lost their house and everything they own and probably their job can afford a loan that wouldn't even come close to covering a fraction of what's been lost anyway!? That's really not help, now is it?  

BUT BUT BUT, WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO PITCH IN AND HELP BECAUSE EVERY LITTLE BIT COUNTS!!! These losses are real -- though the long term effects are mostly ignored in our "consumer" society. But I tell you that YOU can change the world today with a small bit of empathy -- and by throwing your hat in the ring to help!!! Please be in touch with PEOPLE -- not just government organizations who aren't really showing up to help anyway -- but PEOPLE and find out, one-to-one, what they need and how to help. I encourage you to be in touch with Lynda today to help the McKim Way folks!

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