Last month, Roser Memorial Community Church Associate Pastor Neil Crowell found himself in Louisiana surrounded by damaged homes. A flood’s wrath had torn through Baton Rouge and Greenwell Springs, and there was a lot of work to be done.
Crowell, of Palmetto, leads an emergency response team made up of members of the Anna Maria church, and together they had traveled hundreds of miles from Manatee County to help flood victims.
“There were 60,000 homes that were damaged and 80 percent did not have flood insurance,” he recalled. “We did a lot of demolition work. We worked on four homes, I believe, in five days.”
The team removed everything from these homes, including soggy drywall. One home with several feet of floodwater was gutted from top to bottom. Piles of garbage stretched for what seemed like miles to the associate pastor, and sometimes he said they reached 6 feet high.
“We were, in a lot of ways, pulling out everybody’s personal items and their livelihoods and had to throw it away . . . which was really sad,” Crowell said. “But it was also rewarding that we’re helping them rebuild.”
It shows we’re the hands and feet of Christ, no matter where the disaster is. Christ calls us to all the ends of the earth.
Neil Crowell, associate pastor at Roser Memorial Community Church
The emergency response team is now preparing to head to North Carolina for a new flood relief mission — to help victims of Lumberton flood waters. The group, which volunteered under Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian organization that provides aid to people, will be there next week for several days before returning Nov. 6.
“I’m very excited about it. Any chance where I can go and show Christ’s love is when I get excited,” said Crowell, who is originally from North Carolina. “It shows we’re the hands and feet of Christ, no matter where the disaster is. Christ calls us to all the ends of the earth.”
Team member David Cheshire, who is also a member of the congregation at Roser Church, will be joining Crowell and others on the trip to North Carolina. The 68-year-old Holmes Beach resident volunteered on the trip in Louisiana, which was personal for him because he said he and his wife lived in Baton Rouge for 30 years. His voice shook as he spoke about seeing his former home affected by the flood.
“I had so many friends and neighbors that got flooded,” he said, adding that he saw a lot of devastation.
Cheshire said being a part of the church’s emergency response team has felt really good.
“We were helping people. It didn’t matter whether you had little income, or whether you were young or old, or whether you went to a particular church,” he said. “It didn’t matter.”