It's not often you get a year like 2020! Maybe never?! I think everyone has a story to tell about the changes that have gone on since the COVID-19 pandemic began. It's no different for OPC Disaster Response this year. We are now in the midst of organizing efforts for yet another disaster of 2020.
As many on the east coast know, Hurricane Isaias hit the U.S. in early August, starting in Florida, working its way quickly up the eastern shoreline. The storm brought driving rain and whipping winds. Trees were torn out of the ground; roofs and siding flew off homes and businesses as if they were made of paper. Millions were without power for days or weeks; some are just now getting back to normal (pandemic) life.
For David Bowles, member of Grace and Peace OPC in California, MD, life can't get back to what has been referred to as "the new normal" just yet. David lives in a home in Leonardtown, MD with his 90-year old mother. By August 4, 2020, Hurricane Isaias had lessened to a strong tropical storm, but that didn'’t mean it didn’t pack a punch—especially for the Bowles.
In Maryland, the rain came as quickly as the wind. Some, like David and his mother began to see the water rise in their home and garage. At its peak, the water measured about 5" throughout the first floor. David and his mother required rescue by the fire department. Thankfully, they were not injured.
The waters have receded, but not before leaving permanent damage to the home. Because of the widespread flooding, the water is most likely polluted by septic systems and other contaminants from the surrounding area. Carpeting, flooring, cabinets and other low surfaces will have to be removed and disposed of.
OPC Disaster Response Coordinator, David Nakhla, traveled to Maryland where he met with the homeowner, David Bowles, Pastor Edd Cathey and deacons at Grace and Peace OPC in California, Maryland, a congregation of the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic. Deacon Mark Peter from Grace OPC in Vienna, VA and Jim Flannigan from Covenant OPC in New Bern, NC joined them to assess the damage and begin to make a plan of action. The first crucial steps will be to open up the walls and flooring and begin to dry out and disinfect the home.
Early indications are that David Bowles and his elderly mother's home could need up to six months of repairs due to the issues stemming from water ingress. Because the home was not in a flood zone, flood insurance had not been acquired. Water damage can happen quickly and be extensive. Floors and walls will need to be opened up and replaced.
The Lord has graciously provided the Weiglers, husband and wife volunteers from Oakland Hills Community OPC in Farmington Hills, MI, to drive much-needed drying equipment from the OPC disaster response efforts in Midland, MI, to David Bowles' home in Maryland in order to begin the drying-out process. The presbytery and OPC Disaster Response are working together to organize efforts to help David and his mother get the necessary repairs done and return to their home as quickly as possible.
But we will need your help! What seems overwhelming to us can be completed by the grace of our Lord through the efforts of volunteers. Visit the OPC Disaster Response website to find out more about this new effort and to join the registry of volunteers who have let us know that they are willing to be a cup of cold water to a brother or sister in the Lord.
The Committee on Diaconal Ministries has just established a fund specific to the Tropical Storm Isaias disaster response effort. Visit Give.OPC.org and look for "Isaias Flood Fund" if you or your church's diaconate would like to donate.
Please also continue to pray for all of the efforts of OPC Disaster Response. We’re so thankful for all those who participate through donations, volunteering, and prayer. For more information on all of our current efforts, visit our site: opcdisasterresponse.org.