In June of 2016, a “one in a thousand year event” dumped more than 9 inches of rainfall in less than 12 hours on Greenbrier County, West Virginia.
Since that day, families have worked with state agencies, churches and organizations to rebuild damaged houses, and in July, First Presbyterian Church of South Boston partnered with United Methodist Committee on Relief or UMCOR to finish restoration of one such home in Rainelle.
Rainelle is a town in the western corner of Greenbrier County.
Pastor Russell Lee, his son, Matthew, and his wife, Teresa Lee, Wayne and Donna Davis of Louisa, Kim Albert of South Boston, coordinator of mission trips with First Presbyterian, Loretta Brown, formerly of South Boston, Robert Guthrie of South Boston and Larry McPeters of South Boston all joined together to spend July 28 to Aug. 3 putting a roof and other finishing touches on a home for a family of four with two children under the age of 5.
Before the flood hit, Albert said the couple was in the process of finalizing the purchase of their home, and after the state of emergency was issued, the father, a National’s Guardsman, was called away.
Their soon-to-be home became filled with water to the ceiling, said Albert.
“He was hoping to do a lot of repairs himself, but he keeps getting deployed to other disasters. He was very excited to have people come in and get it done,” added Albert.
It was equally exciting for the mission group, as this was going to be the first time in several years they were able to bring a house to completion, according to the mission’s coordinator.
Members with First Presbyterian have been working on houses since Hurricane Katrina and hadn’t completed a home since their time working in New Orleans.
They worked with First Presbyterian Church in New Orleans for three years.
“This year was a little different,” said Albert, who said some of the team had worked with UMCOR in the past, and “they knew our skills and abilities.”
This year the mission team was told to “put a roof on this house and do whatever else it takes, because the family needs to move in this weekend.”
And that’s what they did.
Often starting work before 8 a.m., and sometimes working into the evenings, the men and women worked to put on a tin roof, molding, finish the plumbing in the kitchen and even designed the couple’s kitchen counter top.
The counter top near the kitchen sink was going to have to be custom ordered with a delivery time of four months away, according to Albert.
Their supervisor asked for them to put in something temporary, and Albert said, “They liked it so much, we fixed it as permanent.”
That was one of several times throughout the week the family visited the home as their bedrooms were mostly complete, and they had begun moving in.
The children even got to play for a while on their trampoline and on the back porch with their new puppy, said Albert.
The parents, she said, were overwhelmed with emotion over the idea that strangers wanted to do this for them.
“The last night before we left, their parents encouraged (the children) to give us a hug, and they did. They were sweet, well-mannered little children and a nice young couple. We were so happy to be able to help them,” said Albert.
For several who helped with this trip, this was their vacation time from work. But Albert said they were happy to do it.
“It’s what God calls us to do,” she concluded.