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Sandy Blog: Arkansas mud out teams help restore flooded New York houses

Debris removed from flooded house is stacked on the street. Photo by Caleb YarbroughEditor's Note: Caleb Yarbrough, media specialist for the Arkansas Baptist News, is working alongside Arkansas Baptist volunteers serving in New York in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. He is blogging his experiences as the team travels to the Empire State to help those in need.

DEER PARK, N.Y. – When driving through the areas of Long Island affected by Sandy at first glance many of the homes appear to be unharmed. That is because much of the destruction was caused by rising floodwaters and sewage as opposed to a violent storm or funnel cloud.

Caleb YarbroughMany homes were completely flooded, and in some cases, as high as the second floor. The mixture of salt water and sewage destroyed everything it touched and caused many homes to be condemned and without gas and electricity for the foreseeable future.

The first step to rebuilding these houses damaged by floodwaters is completely gutting them.

This is the job of disaster relief “mud out” units. Mud out units go into homes with substantial damage and clear them so that they can be cleaned and made fit to rebuild. 

Today I had the opportunity to go out with a mud out unit composed of members of five different churches from northwest Arkansas. The house that they were working on was 800 feet from the ocean and was the home of a local Church of God pastor and his family.

The basement and first floor of the home had been under several feet of water and had to be completely gutted. The mud out unit worked throughout the day stripping sheet rock, ripping up flooring and pulling out insulation. By the end of the day the basement and first floor had been completely cleared and was ready to be inspected and sanitized.

As the mud out team left the home residents told them how grateful they were that their brothers and sisters in Christ would take the time to travel halfway across the country to help them in their time of need. It was a beautiful picture of the community and fellowship that is alive between followers of Christ, even those separated by hundreds of miles.

Today was the last day I am going to be in New York. The feeding team that I traveled here with are heading back tomorrow morning and are being replaced by other volunteers from Arkansas. It has been an amazing trip. God has truly worked through His people this week and I believe he will continue to do so as the next groups take over in our absence.

Whether they were cooking meals, washing cambros, clearing trees with chainsaws or gutting homes, each volunteer has worked toward the same goal up in New York – to bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ!

Seeds were planted and people were loved this week. I would ask that you would continue to pray as the next groups take our place in New York. While we may be leaving the work here is by no means finished. Continue to pray that God would use the devastation Sandy as a means for many to be transformed by the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

Caleb Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News

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