Disaster Management Program Responds to Call from New York
Just over a week after the call came to respond to the flood damage left from Hurricane Irene in Binghamton, New York, a team of 13 Ohio Christian University students and 2 adults were on their way. Leaving after class on Thursday, October 13th, they arrived early Friday morning and were eager to start serving after just a few hours of sleep. The first step was to attend a Safety Orientation from Samaritan’s Purse who has set up a Disaster Response Team in the area. Then, it was time to get to work.
The team split their time serving the Endwell and Johnson City Churches of Christ in Christian Union and Samaritan’s Purse. They worked on homes of three families from the congregations, including two houses that had to be completely gutted down to the framework. One group of students also spent a day working at the Johnson City CCCU church which had severe flood damage to the church basement and parsonage. “The work they performed helped people who by themselves would have never been able to redeem their property in time to stop serious and permanent damage,” said Rev. Wyatt Buchanan, Pastor of Johnson City CCCU, regarding the impact of the team.
With Samaritan’s Purse, the team worked on a house that had been almost completely underwater for two weeks and had not been entered since the flooding in late August. While the team had been wearing masks, safety glasses and hard hats already, now it was time to add the Tyvek suits for protection against the mold and unsanitary conditions. They spent two days shoveling and carrying out heaps of soaked, ruined belongings, piling them up in the front yard to be picked up as trash. After that was accomplished, they began tearing out the drywall. By the end, the front yard was no longer visible due to everything that was pulled out of the house.
The team got to use their work, and sometimes their words, as a witness to all of the homeowners. “It is so important to have first responders such as our disaster relief team because sometimes unfortunate events happen where people cannot help themselves, and as Christians, it is our duty to share Gods love through help,” said Taylor Rickman, a Freshman at OCU. As part of the Samaritan’s Purse process, the team was able to sign a brand new Bible and present it to the homeowner. It was very humbling to know that one of the only possessions this woman had left was that Bible.
OCU is one of fewer than 150 colleges and universities in the country which is training students to respond to emergencies and disasters. “This trip meant a great opportunity to see what my future career will entail, along with a chance to become active in the field that already has a hold on my heart,” said Kyle Landenberger, a Sophomore Disaster Management student. The trip allowed the students to put their unique training into practice gaining real-world experience responding to a disaster and addressing the psychical and spiritual needs of those impacted.