DONIPHAN, Mo.—When HT and Michelle Herring purchased what was to be their retirement home on the banks of the Current River near Doniphan, Missouri, they were reassured the house sat far enough above the river for safety.
“When it was originally built in 1967, it would take up to a 24-foot flood level; this matched the original 1904 highest flood level recorded,” HT said of the home they bought in 2004.
But on Saturday, April 30, as the Current River rose to what would be historic 33-foot levels, Herring scrambled to put furniture and pictures in the attic before seeking higher ground at a friend’s home.
“Saturday was a beautiful day, sunshiny. It lulled everybody into a sense of serenity. The river dropped three feet, but I checked the USGS [United States Geological Survey] and saw the river had risen 13 feet in one hour,” Herring recalled, adding that water soon rose about 8 feet inside the home, up to the gutters, stopping about 5 inches from the attic. A 10-foot by 15-foot shed on the property was swept away by floodwaters.
“We are among the fortunate ones. There’s a lot of people who have lost everything,” he said.
When the waters receded, Herring began what he called essentially a “one man job” of removing debris. A nephew and some friends helped some, he said, but the situation seemed desperate until Michelle went to disaster relief headquarters at First Baptist Church Doniphan and applied for help.
Missouri DR deployed a six-person SBTC unit from First Baptist Pflugerville led by David Dean to the Herring home.
“The Baptist church came through. You all just saved me,” Herring told the TEXAN, referring to the SBTC volunteers. “This is a coordinated effort. This is a war zone here. You all have done a fantastic job.”
Herring worked alongside the SBTC crew, Dean said, calling the three-day process “wet, sloppy work” involving the removal of flooring, sheetrock and soggy insulation.
Dean dubbed Herring, whose leg contains a titanium rod, a “trooper,” adding that the homeowner, a Methodist, had opened one day’s work by volunteering to pray for the Baptist crew.
“He prayed for our safety and well-being and for our families back home,” Dean said.
Dean said his SBTC unit consisted of three men and three women, all of whom “pitched right in, no matter how dirty the work.”
“This is the messiest work,” Dean said of mud-out efforts. “We go home very dirty each night. The homeowner is very grateful. We feel like we are doing the Lord’s work here.”
Labor at the Herring home ended Friday with Dean’s crew spraying mold retardant over bare studs. Dean said the unit would next begin work on a flooded 4,000-square-foot home resting on 30-foot high stilts, a job to be finished by Tennessee Baptist DR volunteers due in later.
The SBTC’s two-week deployment at Doniphan ended May 27 as the team returned to Texas.
Monte Furrh’s six-person DR unit from Bonham, Texas, began SBTC DR efforts in Missouri on May 14, shortly after finishing DR tornado cleanup in Canton, Texas.
Furrh’s crew arrived in Doniphan to see the First Church of God’s steeple sticking out above floodwaters, which submerged the building. They completed four large jobs, including work on three homes belonging to FBC Doniphan members before turning things over to Dean’s unit and returning to Texas.
SBTC DR crews came to Missouri at the request of Missouri DR.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to serve with Missouri disaster relief. This was our opportunity to return a favor to Missouri as they were here helping us in floods in Texas in 2016,” said Scottie Stice, SBTC director of disaster relief.
“I appreciate the Missouri DR volunteers and their very capable leadership with Dwain Carter and their white hats,” Stice noted, adding that Missouri DR had done an “excellent job of serving flood victims and sharing the gospel as they have responded to the needs of the flooded communities.”
“I am still astounded at the kindness the Southern Baptists extended to my wife and me in our time of desperation,” Herring said. “God bless the Southern Baptists as they are truly doing God’s work. David and his team deserve to be recognized for what they did for us and I’m sure others as well. I just can’t say enough good things about them and their mission to help others in need. We’re certainly not rich folks monetarily, but we feel rich due to the kindness of others when we needed it. Words can never convey how we were so blessed.”
SBTC DR feeding teams have also deployed this spring in support of Texas National Guard activities at Camp Swift near Bastrop, Camp Wolters at Mineral Wells, and Camp Maxey at Powderly, while a cleanup and recovery unit assisted storm victims in Sealy and another unit responded to victims of a high wind incident in Kilgore, Stice confirmed.
For more information on how to give or volunteer, visit sbtexas.com/evangelism/disaster-relief/how-to-help.