In a first-time partnership that marks the anniversary of devastating flooding in Colorado in September 2013, the Calvin College Alumni Association is volunteering with World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS) to help homeowners in Boulder, Longmont, and Lyons. Calvin grads from around the state will join other volunteers in the Colorado United Day of Service on September 13, 2014.
“There is a strong connection to the CRC in Denver,” says Groups Manager Art Opperwall, “so when the Alumni Association approached World Renew DRS about a partnership in Boulder flood response, it was a great fit.”
Cal Van Heukelem, a Calvin alumnus who makes his home in Denver, is also a local coordinator for World Renew DRS in the flood response in Boulder County. In his position, Van Heukelem consults with the Boulder long-term recovery group, estimates and plans work projects, and matches the needs of flood survivors with the skills of volunteers. He will also oversee the Calvin alumni while they are there.
“The alumni will work on two homes on the weekend of September 13,” Van Heukelem says. “They will work on drywall in the basement of one house and repair the drainage system in the other.” Van Heukelem added that most of the labor that DRS is providing at this one-year point in the flood response is basement restoration and drain mitigation.
World Renew DRS has been active in the flood response since September 25, 2013, after connecting with Greeley CRC, Journey Church, Crestview CRC, and other congregations and organizations while roads were still washed out, electricity was cut off, and evacuation orders were in place in towns like Longmont and Lyons. The St. Vrain River, Lefthand Creek, and the Big Thompson River all flooded. There were also mudslides and landslides in areas that were subject to massive wildfires in the months before the flood.
“Roads, homes, and neighborhoods were underwater, and getting anywhere was difficult in the first days of the response,” recalls DRS area representative Walt Ackerman. “Getting utility services back in operation was also a major problem.” Over the last year, World Renew DRS has provided early and rapid responses including mucking-out, clean-up, and debris removal. World Renew has also completed multiple needs assessments, provided reconstruction volunteers and work groups, and provided training and guidance for the long-term recovery. In all, 181 volunteers have given 12,090 hours of their time and talent to help 900 families with clean up, needs assessments, and home repair in Colorado Flood Response through World Renew DRS.
Today, a year later, a lot has been done to help homeowners in Colorado recover. But the work is far from complete. “The ramifications of flooding are long term,” Van Heukelem says. “Unless you’ve experienced flooding yourself, people don’t realize how long it takes to get property back to normal…. It can take years, especially for those who don’t have the financial means or physical ability to fix their homes themselves.”
Harry Faber, a World Renew volunteer in needs assessments who returned from Colorado last month, agrees that World Renew’s work there will continue into the future. “Many residents were unable to return to their homes for eight months (May 2014) because the roads and driveways had washed away,” he said. “One home was crushed by a falling boulder that was loosened by the rain and flooding. The assessment team prioritized another homeowner who was living in a house with active black mold, and the recovery group began the mold removal process in less than two days.”
There are many opportunities to show the love of Jesus Christ to people in Colorado who are recovering from last year’s flood. If you are a Calvin grad who would like to volunteer with the Alumni Association in Boulder this weekend, click here for more information.
If you would like to volunteer with World Renew DRS in Colorado or elsewhere in the U.S. and Canada, go to worldrenew.net/drs to fill out an application or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. World Renew DRS can use volunteers of any skill level!
To donate financially to the World Renew DRS response in Colorado, go to worldrenew.net/donate and choose “Colorado Flood 2013.” However you get involved, you’ll find that it’s a blessing to serve others through World Renew DRS.
“Each (World Renew DRS volunteer) brought a special light into our home,” says one Colorado homeowner. “The basement is no longer dark and ominous, the roof is watertight, and the backyard is dry, thanks to your efforts. Your hard work has given us peace of mind. In fact, we had a heavy rain storm a couple of days ago that caused some minor flooding, but we weren’t worried – and that is something new for us! Thank you for being a part of our world.”