FLEMING ISLAND – After ensuring the safety of their own families, members of local churches joined together to help members of their church family early Monday morning after mass flooding affected …
FLEMING ISLAND – After ensuring the safety of their own families, members of local churches joined together to help members of their church family early Monday morning after mass flooding affected Clay County residents following Hurricane Irma.
Dozens of cars lined the street outside a home off Pine Avenue on Fleming Island Tuesday morning as volunteer efforts continued to increase in the storm’s wake. The home had become inundated very early Monday morning, as the owners began noticing the approaching flood water, they gathered up their household and began going door-to-door warning neighbors to get out, according to volunteers.
After evacuating, the water took over the neighborhood, and a few hours later members of their church had already sprung into action.
“The water was knee high, it was too deep to get a vehicle [to the house],” said Carmen Queen, a volunteer from River Christian Church in Green Cove Springs where she met the home’s owners in a bible study group. “Today we’re taking out drywall and insulation, and trying to repair everything we can.”
About a dozen church members of the River Christian congregation responded initially. Using paddle boards and kayaks to carry items, volunteers waded through knee-deep water to remove clothing and any items the family would need immediately as they moved in with relatives until their home is repaired.
“Their clothes we’ve taken out are being washed and then taken back to the family,” said Queen’s daughter Jacqueline.
After people got their bearings and dealt with their own storm-related problems, the effort became a full-on assembly line of volunteers from all over the county, including some from Christ’s Church on Fleming Island, which is operating as a headquarters for those wishing to get involved in the volunteer effort.
Christ’s Church lists itself as a “clearinghouse for all volunteer mobilization,” and officially opened at 11 a.m. Tuesday. The church, however, began seeing willing volunteers earlier Tuesday morning and had already sent out about five crews like the one off Pine Avenue before 11.
The church volunteered itself to host volunteer efforts a few months back during a conversation between the church’s pastor and Andre Van Heerden of the Clay SafetyNet Alliance.
“A few months ago the EOC hosted an event to get all the organizations together to get prepared, and I threw our hat in the ring,” said Todd Bussey, the campus pastor at the Fleming Island Christ’s Church. “A day or two before things got bad, we got the call, and opened our doors this morning. As the week goes on we’ll start to get a greater sense of what people need and what our volunteers can do.”
The church is assigning volunteers to existing teams as they arrive at their campus off State Road 17 just south of County Road 220. They are currently working to provide workers who can clear debris, tarp roofs and muck out homes, according to a release from the church.
Anyone who needs help is welcomed to contact the church at 904-644-0311 and they will coordinate a volunteer to help. Those wishing to volunteer can also contact the church’s main office at the same number or get involved by showing up at the church with proper clothes, shoes, work gloves, and a will to work.
The Christ’s Church Facebook page also provides a link to a www.signupgenius.com page where volunteers with specific skills or tools can sign up to provide those tools and services. They are looking for anyone with hammers, rakes, crowbars and chainsaws. They are also looking for people with administrative and/or office experience to help with maintaining their operations for several weeks as the need for volunteers continues.