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The Blog of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
October 04, 2011
Flooded Homes Cleaned by InterVarsity Students
Driving down Main Street in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, InterVarsity students from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC) were amazed to see two homes that had been pushed off of their foundations by the recent floods. Piles of trash and flood-soaked furniture, flooring, and insulation lined the sides of the street.
The students did not come for sightseeing; they were there to pitch in. Soon they found Laurie, whose home had been flooded. They spent the rest of the day cleaning the basement and first floor levels of Laurie’s home.
“We prayed for Laurie after we finished working for the day, and she explicitly thanked God for sending us to her,” reported Kaylyn Myers, InterVarsity’s UMBC Campus Staff Member. “She was surprised to learn that we had driven all the way from Maryland.”
These leaders of the UMBC InterVarsity chapter were willing to give up a day of their weekend in order to help clean up after the Susquehanna River flooding because they have a commitment to service, but also because they believe such service advances God’s Kingdom on earth.
The early September floods along the Susquehanna River in New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland reached record levels and caused millions of dollars in damage to schools, homes, and businesses. Bloomsburg University was closed for over a week and several other campuses along the river cancelled some classes.
Becky Everhart, InterVarsity’s Campus Staff Member at Bloomsburg, had two feet of water in her apartment, forcing her evacuation. She gives thanks to God that her landlord found her another place to live.
The Sun-Gazette newspaper of Williamsport reported that students from across Central Pennsylvania turned out to help with the clean-up. Bucknell University senior Danielle Alaimo was part of an InterVarsity group that helped clean up a mobile home park. “This is our community, and it’s really great to be able to give back to this community that’s hosted me for years already,” she said.
More Work to be Done
InterVarsity freshmen from Lehigh spent the first part of one weekend at a planned retreat, and the second half at Bloomsburg cleaning up after the flooding. There’s still more work to be done, a team of Bucknell students will be spending a weekend of their fall break at Bloomsburg. And the UMBC team was surprised to get the discouraging news that Laurie’s home had been re-flooded when the river rose again later.
Janice Butler, Bucknell’s Director of Civic Engagement & Service-Learning, was impressed by the willingness of students to get involved in helping people facing difficult circumstances. “Bucknell University students really stepped up to help residents affected by the local flooding,” she said. “The InterVarsity Christian Fellowship members, in particular, were terrific: helping to make and distribute lunches the day the waters receded, and going back out day after day to lend a hand. They helped at the Red Cross shelter, moved furniture, cleared debris, and mucked out people’s basements.”
“God was certainly at work,” Kaylyn said of their time at Bloomsburg, an opinion that is shared by other InterVarsity Campus Staff Members. Students returned to campus with a new perspective on not only campus ministry, but on their own role in God’s work of redemption.