Photo: MNA’s Arklie Hooten surveys the site of a dam breach in Lexington, S.C.
When a flood devastates your life, you don’t forget it. Sherry Lanier knows this well.
As the Mission to North America (MNA) disaster response facilitator, Lanier has witnessed the havoc that floods wreak and the ways that natural disasters create channels for the Gospel.
When she addressed a women’s retreat for Grace Presbytery in southern Mississippi in 2014, Lanier knew she was speaking to women whose lives had been ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.
Knowing what these women had endured, Lanier asked if they would consider assembling some “flood buckets,” relief kits filled with supplies used to clean flooded houses immediately after a storm.
The women of Grace Presbytery went to work and in less than a year assembled 75 buckets, which they planned to present to Lanier at MNA’s new disaster response warehouse in Rome, Georgia.
But before the presbytery could send the buckets, unprecedented storms, caused in part by Hurricane Joaquin, pummeled South Carolina, bringing historic rainfall and damage. The flood buckets Grace Presbytery prepared for storage suddenly became a crucial part of the work in South Carolina, so members of First Presbyterian Church in Gulfport, Mississippi, loaded the kits into a trailer and drove them straight to Lexington, South Carolina.
With the buckets, First Presbyterian sent a message: “These are from Katrinaland.”
Grace Presbytery’s response to Lanier’s request and the message from First Presbyterian demonstrate the impact MNA’s disaster-relief work has on a community. A decade ago MNA Disaster Response coordinated volunteers throughout the Gulf Coast in Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath. Now the churches that received assistance in 2005 want to help their brothers and sisters in need farther north.
MNA Disaster Response is coordinating relief efforts at four sites in South Carolina and raising funds to help Watershed Fellowship, which sustained catastrophic damage. Volunteers are working to “muck out” houses, removing everything in the house that was damaged by the floods.
Every flood bucket opened is another opportunity to offer the hope of the Gospel in times of desperate need.