Disaster Response Services (DRS) volunteers began to clean up and muck out homes in Newaygo, Michigan, after heavy rain and snow melt flooded homes along the Muskegon River in April.
The effort wrapped up last week after the needs of those who were most affected and could least afford it were met.
“We realized pretty quickly that there were quite a few families who would need help cleaning out their homes,” said Andy Vander Meer, team leader in the Rapid Response.
World Renew DRS seeks out those who are elderly, handicapped, indigent, without insurance, or otherwise unable to recover from a disaster on their own.
VanderMeer says that World Renew worked with several partner agencies to assist those in the most need, including the Red Cross and the Southern Baptist Convention.
World Renew’s Rapid Responders welcomed local volunteers, including those from the Grant and Pine Grove Christian Reformed congregations. Volunteers donated anywhere from a day to two weeks of their time. VanderMeer says that the collaboration and compassion of neighbors and others in the area just grew from there.
“A woman stopped by one day with a bag of groceries for the team: she and some neighbors pulled together to purchase lunch food and snack for us,” VanderMeer said. “As we talked to her, we found that they remembered World Renew DRS from a flood response in the same area nearly 30 years ago, and they were turning that blessing around.”
The River Stop Café provided volunteers with lunch for several days, and another neighbor offered to clear debris from the yard of a damaged home with a small tractor he owned.
“In one home, three feet of flood water sat for several days,” VanderMeer said. “A lot of damage happens in that time. The floor needed to be pulled out, the drywall was removed to four feet above the floor, and everything that was on the floor was ruined. Our team was able to pull out the flooring, treat the affected areas for mold, and sanitize the basement crawl space and main floor.”
World Renew DRS volunteers are trustworthy and follow through, VanderMeer adds, taking a personal interest in the work, serving disaster survivors and their Lord in the work they do.
“The quality and amount of work accomplished in response to this flood was impressive,” he said. “World Renew DRS volunteers work on survivors’ homes as if they were their own: This is our home. This is our field. This is our mission.”