Disaster Response

Stan’s story

The following post is from Charles Ray, special projects coordinator for CBF of Arkansas and CBF national disaster response coordinator.

In 2010, many were ready to rename a river an ocean.  The Mississippi was out of control and dozens of states were bracing for the worst.  As the destructive path moved slowly toward Louisiana, thousands were experiencing flooding, major loss of income and property.  In addition, a major Interstate highway was closed creating a 300 plus mile detour in moving needed U.S. commerce.  This is the story of one of the thousands affected by the flooding and how CBF disaster response ministries touched his life two years later. 

Stan (not his real name) is 50 something and had lived his life close to a river on the outskirts of a small southern town of 554 people.  As with most river towns in the south the main income was from agriculture.  Stan worked for a chemical company as a truck driver.  During the winter months he didn’t work at all since there was no need for his product.  In the spring of 2010 Stan was diagnosed with cancer.  It’s not unusual for a seasonal worker to not have health insurance, and Stan was no exception.  What little he had was used to help pay his medical bills.  After four months of treatments and rehab Stan was in remission. 

Sadly, the river didn’t wait to see if he survived.  His home, which was already six feet about ground, stood in 15 feet of water for more than 2 weeks.  Glad to be alive, but sick, broke and unemployed, Stan came back to a complete loss and still had to get rid of the debris.  Since he wasn’t the only one without a home he was provided a small FEMA trailer that he could stay in for two years.  As his health would permit he returned to the seasonal job, working 12 hours a day.  On Saturday he would buy what little he could afford and began repairing his home. 

I heard about Stan in 2012.  While in a meeting of major disaster response groups I heard some discussion concerning a couple of families that were about to lose their FEMA trailers. For various reasons they were not on track to complete renovations in time to not face homelessness for the second time in two years.  I agreed to contact Stan. 

The following Saturday I found him working alone on building a closet in what was once his “castle”.  Two years, little money, questionable health and time running out.  A lot had been done, but more was needed.  He wasn’t going to make it.  After seeing his need I explained that “we” would help him.  “Whose is we?” he asked.  I told him CBF was made up of people who cared about others and we would do what we could.  He then said something to me that I will never forget, “I don’t need anyone offering me a loan that I can’t pay back, I simply need help”.

 (I now realize the times I’ve simply need help.  Thank God someone has always been there.) 

I asked Stan to make me a list of everything needed to finish his home enough to get out of the FEMA trailer.  I took the list to a local home supply, shared the need and received a healthy discount and offer of a store employee to spend as much time as needed with Stan and me to select the needed items. 

Six Saturdays from meeting him just off that gravel road in that little southern town, we loaded the ceiling tile, floor coverings, doors, shower, sinks, kitchen cabinets, refrigerator, stove and dishwasher into the truck his employer loaned him.  He had asked his son to join us at the store so he could thank me as well.  The son brought his wife and Stan’s 7 year old grandson.  I felt a little embarrassed since this wasn’t my money, but yours. 

Now you know what we do with some of your money when you donate to CBF.  We don’t let it sit in a bank waiting for something bad to happen.  We put it to work in the Kingdom.

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