“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 (NIV)
Since Tuesday, our community of Monroe/West Monroe has taken on more than 24 inches of rain, much more than the 8-9 inch prediction. The rapid rise of water has forced people out of their homes and businesses. People are literally boating down the streets of their neighborhoods to try and salvage what is left of their belongings. If you Google images of “Monroe Louisiana flood 2016”, you will see more than you need to understand what we are facing at this very moment.
My grandmother’s house was one of the first to go. Thankfully, she wasn’t there as she has been living in a nursing home for the last couple of years. However, this house is where all of our Mia Moo Fund merchandise is stored along with lots of other business items. We also have a boarder living there. All day Wednesday, we had people from four different churches (and even members of the Duck Dynasty film crew) show up with sandbags and man (and woman) power. With a limit of only 15 sandbags per vehicle, it literally took all day to accumulate enough sandbags to go around the house. By 6:00 that evening, and with the first wave of rain letting up, we felt pretty good about the security of the house and went home. Covered in mud, green duck weed from the pond behind the house and freezing, I was getting cleaned up when my phone rang. It was the boarder. She was panicked as the water was pouring into the kitchen and bathroom and filling up quickly. I jumped in my suburban and drove over there to get her. What was once a dry garage 45 minutes earlier was a foot deep and rising. She waded to my vehicle with as much of her belongings as she could carry, and I took her home with me.
The next day, we woke to the devastation of 8 inches of water in that house. It actually receded rather quickly, but it left behind that same mud and green duck weed that was all over me the previous day. Would you know that the same people that came the day before to bring the sandbags (shout out to Matt and his Christ Church crew!) were most of the same people who came the next day and unloaded the entire house and took all of that merchandise to higher ground? And once we realized the sandbags did us little good, we all loaded up a large trailer so that someone else in another neighborhood could use them and possibly save their home.
As we finished up on Wednesday, I tried to give some of them money for pizza. But they wouldn’t take it. I invited them to come back when the house was repaired, and I would cook them a meal. They politely declined. I finally said, “What can I do? ‘Thank you’ just isn’t enough.” Covered in mud and yuck, Matt elbow-bumped me and replied, “We’re the body of Christ. It’s just what we do for each other.”
That was it. He took his crew and was gone to help someone else. I’ve never met him before. He was a friend of a friend who heard we were in immediate trouble, showed up, worked for two days and left with nothing to show for it.
You know what’s even greater than that? He’s not the only one. Post after post on Facebook has people offering their boats, physical labor, meals and even empty bedrooms in their houses for people who can’t go home. Large-scale disasters and tragedies can bring out either the best or worst in people. Our community is definitely seeing the best.
Just to put it into perspective, the Ouachita River that runs in between Monroe and West Monroe has a flood stage of 40 feet. We are currently at 45.
We are just getting started in the recovery process, but because God’s people are showing Christ’s love, we will succeed. Not just succeed. We will thrive! My dad has a phrase he has said most of my life: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Our own church family at White’s Ferry Road church is on call 24/7 with teams going out at all hours of the day and night. If you need help or would like to offer your own services, please contact us directly at 318-805-1897.
“We’re the body of Christ. It’s just what we do for each other.” – Matt