Grunthal couple helps flood victims in U.S.
A Grunthal couple went to Kentucky in March to help victims of a 2022 flood. While there, they helped put up sheet rock, and did taping, mudding, putting in flooring, and painting among other duties.
“It was amazing. We didn’t really know what to expect. We’d heard that the flooding had been terrible at Clayhole, where we were based. But we saw so many flooded out homes and their belongings in the front yard, or I guess garbage by then, they had taken what they could salvage,” said Carol Bergman, one half of the volunteering couple.
“Anyway, we found that it was a really good experience. A real eye-opening experience. When people who have lost everything and decide to rebuild and MDS is there to help. That was really cool.”
Richard and Carol are from the Elim Mennonite Church and volunteered with Mennonite Disaster Services (MDS) when going to Clayhole. Due to 12 inches of rain falling over one night, the town saw 12 miles of flooded land impact 112 houses. The Bergmans helped remediate four homes over a period of one month.
“It was quite disheartening when we drove down that road,” said Richard.
At all four homes that the Bergman’s worked on, homeowners pitched in with repairs. Richard, who was crew chief, said homeowners are not expected to help with remediation, but it was nice to have these homeowners there because it was a chance to meet them and hear their stories.
He shared the tale of one homeowner who placed his guitars and ukulele on top of his mattress to see if it would protect his instruments. When the flood waters came, the mattress rose eight inches below his ceiling. When waters receded, the musical instruments were dry.
“That was quite the story and just to know the water came that high. It never flooded like that before. They had a little bit of flooding, but never like that. The other fella that we worked for – Ed – his house had never flooded before and he had the flood. He shared the story where he had to stay in the barn for 12 hours before the water started going down. It was two days before he could actually drive out of there. The storm was quite bad.”
This isn’t the first time the semi-retired teachers have volunteered with MDS. They’ve helped in tornado ravaged Madison, Wisconsin and flood damaged Minot, North Dakota, and High River, Alberta. They say they are doing God’s work.
“I think it was really rewarding just to see (the impact we had). When we talked to Ed he said that seeing MDS come there and seeing volunteers come and work on his home it just gave him a renewed sense in the value of humanity.”
“And we said, ‘You don’t owe us anything. We’re doing this for the love of Jesus and we’re going to help them get their homes back. We’re the hands and feet of Jesus working there and we want to get their homes in shape so that they can get back into them. And probably we’re going to help fix them up so they’re better.’ That was definitely the case with Ed’s house. It was definitely better than it was before. It was a coal miners house,” said Richard.
Clayhole was a coal mining town, but when the mine shut down the area’s residents were plunged into poverty. Carol said it was sad to see what little they did own was gone when the flood hit.
“I had never seen anything like that,” she said.
For now, the Bergmans are taking a break with volunteering, but they encourage people in the trades to volunteer with MDS.
“MDS does a lot of their work in winter months from October to March. We had many people that were in the trades they just came down there for a week. Whether it was a church group or a work group they go down for a week… We really need people who are in the trades that can go.”