Describe the evening that Ida arrived in Coatesville, Pa. What was it like for your family?
It was pretty crazy, power outages off and on. Police and fire sirens everywhere. Social media was going crazy with people posting pictures and videos of the flooded streets and homes. You can imagine what almost 10 inches of rain in just a short time can do! Coatesville is in a valley so, the water was rising fast in several of the neighborhoods. Too fast for families to get out of their homes and even move their cars. By 7:00pm, we knew it was going to be bad for several neighborhoods. One neighborhood had almost 9 ft. of water.
Were many of your members or participants in Ways of Gentlemen impacted?
Several of our church families and families who attend our programs throughout the week had homes that were devastated. Several of our families had to be rescued by boat (in neighborhoods over a mile from any body of water!).
How did learn about community needs?
After I worked on the flooding in our basement, I went for a drive through the city around 1:30 am. I couldn’t believe the devastation. The parking lot our church rents was 7 ft. under water. We knew that we would need all hands on deck the next several days. So, Friday morning we were on the ground in neighborhoods, assessing damage, and beginning to pump water out of homes and clear our basements.
What are the needs–long-term and short-term?
There are a lot of needs. The immediate needs were getting families into hotels, helping them clean out basements, dry out homes, and clear out the ruined items. There were about 140 families displaced in Coatesville alone. Many families lost so much. Thousands of dollars in appliances, clothing, stored memories, etc. were lost. Hundreds of people from churches, the school district, community organizations, and community members have stepped in and really have been a huge help. Tons and tons of dumpsters have been filled and lots of man hours have been put into caring for these families who’ve lost so much. The ongoing work has been getting families back into homes or finding them new homes. FEMA has stepped in now and many families are getting disaster assistance. There is a long road ahead. Many families were renting or on Section 8 and housing just isn’t readily available at this time. It’s really sad.
Describe the mental state of the community since the storm.
I think people are encouraged. I think the community really came together and supported one another. The families affected are really going to need some support and encouragement moving forward. So many lost so much and are truly devastated.
How have you been serving your community?
Our church family has been on the ground working with families in their homes, we’ve been able to financially come around many families with hotel costs, food, and other needs. We have also adopted a few families that we will be working alongside of in the coming weeks and months to make sure they get the support and care they need. We have been able to be a liaison to the families and other churches as well. Several churches have come alongside of us and pulled many resources together to help us support these families. This is our neighborhood and these are our neighbors. We are trying to have some kind of presence there every day. The hardest hit section of our city is just a block and a half away from our church building. The Lord has allowed us this unique opportunity to be His hands and feet during this time!
How can others help?
Pray for the ongoing work. Learn more how to get involved with Disaster Relief efforts through the BRN and NAMB. They are doing incredible things. Come and serve. There is especially a need for skilled laborers right now getting homes back together for families. We’re raising funds right now to bless some families with new washers and dryers and other appliances that were lost. If you want to support, send a check to Providence Church, Coatesville (PO Box 95, Coatesville, PA 19320-0095) and put “Hurricane Relief” in the memo.