Deconstructing flooded homes brings people of faith together to help rebuild lives and communities

Dave Castle (left) with Nechama Jewish Response to Disaster and Dave Henderson with United Methodists, represent just two volunteers from the diverse religious groups (including Hindu and Muslim) involved in volunteering to help flood and storm relief work

Dave Henderson loves being involved with helping people. In addition to his work as Senior Pastor of Trinity United Methodist in Wise VA., he is an experienced representative of UMCOR’s Civil Engineers, helping people clean out and reconstruct their flooded homes.

Henderson was in Memphis last week, working with other volunteer groups from other faith groups, showing how a variety of people from different religious backgrounds can come together and work to help restore parts of our community. The volunteers were deconstructing fifteen homes in North Memphis that were devastated by the storms and floods last April and May.

“It doesn’t matter what race, religion or age, we are all working together out here in the heat. But a lot of volunteers haven’t received the right training yet, and we have our early response team members to train and oversee these volunteers,” Henderson said. “We could have never put this together and received the answers we needed without the help of VOAD, United Way and Loretta Hurt” (Hurt is a United Way staff member who serves on the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters, also known as VOAD).

With assistance from VOAD, volunteers were provided with information about houses needing clean-up and deconstruction. The volunteers were also brought up-to-speed on advisories issued by the Shelby County Health Department. The department and the Shelby County Office of Preparedness/EMA recently elevated UMCOR to a “lead organization” position in the clean-up effort.

“When we arrive on these sites, every possession is wet, muddy and molded,” Henderson said. “Whenever the water recedes, everything that rose with the water during the flood comes back down in really bad shape. We separate everything into six piles for sanitation to pick up.”

Henderson says work on reconstructing the stripped down homes will begin later this month.

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