SBTC volunteers make difference in Des Moines

DES MOINES, Iowa?Disaster relief (DR) volunteers from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention have made water-damaged homes ready for repair and led three people to faith in Christ through the first 10 days of DR work in the flood-damaged Iowa capital city.

Veteran disaster relief volunteer Billie Sue of Forest Home Baptist Church in Kilgore said the Texas team of 13 volunteers assessed damage on several dozen houses in a section of Des Moines that was flooded on June 14 after heavy Midwest rains forced a levee to break.

Of those homes, about a dozen have been dried out, cleaned and sanitized for mold and bacteria?what the DR teams call “mud-out” work?by June 25. Once cleaned and often stripped down to stud walls, builders can begin refurbishing the inside of the homes, Sue explained.

Other Iowa towns, including Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, were hit hard as well, with Baptists from other states helping recovery there.

“I’ve been doing assessments, going into homes, getting the job orders ready for the teams to do mud-out work. I love doing the mud-out work myself,” Sue said. Some of the homes absorbed five to six feet of water. Another challenge is most of the houses have finished basements with furniture, which requires moving water-logged items up the stairs, Sue said.

“[The homeowners] are pretty distressed because their homes are just ruined,” but seeing the yellow-shirt clad Southern Baptists hard at work “helps their spirits a lot. We do a lot of praying with them if we see them getting distressed,” Sue said. “When we finish up a home, we all sign a Bible and give them the Bible before we leave.”

Sue said this trip was her 10th or 11th as a DR volunteer. She helped last fall after flooding devastated parts of Wisconsin.

A Des Moines city employee worked alongside the team for several days, insisting he stay assigned to the Texas group. On June 24, Sue said the young man named Darrell prayed to receive Christ. The next night he came to the church where the team was staying in inner-city Des Moines, True Bible Baptist Church, where he had dinner with the team and learned more about his newfound faith.

The team led two other people to Christ as well, Sue said.

On the trip to Iowa, “I don’t think we stopped one time that we didn’t have someone who recognized our yellow shirts and thanked us for what we are doing. That makes us feel so good. There are seeds being dropped along the way and hopefully people will understand why we would come up here from Texas to help them.”

On July 1, a second team of SBTC volunteers was to arrive and begin work.

For more information on SBTC disaster relief ministry, visit or call the SBTC office at 877-953-7282.

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