Keep praying for us
Burlington, Ontario residents Elizabeth Nguyen, her husband Tran, and their three children are grateful to God for the help they’ve received after the flood.
Bags of garbage covered the grass beside the road, the mound of debris easily marking the home that Samaritan’s Purse was there to help. The family’s hard work was clearly evident in the sodden wood that had been hauled outside and piled in the yard, and the silt-covered toys that covered the front steps. Other belongings were spread out on the grass to dry.
“When we came back, everything had been damaged,” Elizabeth Nguyen said, gesturing to the home behind her.
Elizabeth, her husband Tran, and their children were visiting extended family when the flood hit. When they heard the news, they drove back to see if their house had been affected. The police turned them away as the area was still under water.
“It was horrible. Terrible,” she said, describing the day they were allowed back into their home. “There is nothing left [in the basement], including the washer, dryer, furnace, and hot water tank.” The family has been living without any of these amenities for over a week while they attempt the herculean task of cleaning up after all the damage.
“My husband and I, and my parents—we had to work day and night,” she said. “It is a most difficult time for us.”
However, Elizabeth has nothing but gratitude for the help she is receiving from a Samaritan’s Purse volunteer team who stepped in this week to help the exhausted family.
“God gave us a hand and a lot of hands have saved our lives. We appreciate your help very much. Keep praying for us please,” she said. “God is listening to us.”
Volunteers Needed in Burlington
When asked what the greatest need is for the Samaritan’s Purse disaster relief team in Burlington, Ontario, our response manager Steve Elliott replied, “Volunteers are always our biggest need.”
Elliott also managed a Samaritan’s Purse flood response in Belleville, Ontario, this past spring—which helped 33 homeowners return to houses that were cleaned out, sanitized, and ready for rebuild. It’s expected that this response will be larger.
“We would like to try to get more than 100 volunteers spread out in several homes every day,” said Elliott. “It would make short order of the work we have here.”
It’s estimated that more than 1,000 homes have been damaged in Burlington after a downpour on August 4 that caused flash flooding mostly in the city’s south. Thirteen centimeters of rain fell in a mere five hours.
“Having people come and sign up to be a member of the team is the best way we can manage this recovery effort,” said Elliott.
Many groups have passed this request for help along to their volunteer networks, including the Christian Reformed Churches, the City of Burlington, World Renew (our local NGO partner in this response), and the Burlington Professional Firefighters Association.
“I’ve seen some of the destruction even in my own neighborhood, with basements being flooded up to the rafters,” said Dan VanderLelie, president of the Burlington Professional Firefighters Association. “Their family history, pictures, everything has been lost. Everything people have worked for has literally been washed away.”
VanderLelie spoke with many homeowners after the flooding. “They said the only thing they could compare it to is what they understand a tsunami to be like—a wall of water that came into their back doors and into their yards. It was fast—10 minutes to fill a basement.”
“There are a lot of people that are still in need—seniors, people that aren’t covered under insurance and just have nowhere to turn,” said VanderLelie. “We need volunteers to come out. This is when the community should come together and be the strongest.”
Elliott’s sentiments are similar: “There are still many others who need our help. We have to identify where they are and assess the homes to see what work needs to be done there.”
“The work is very rewarding,” he continued. “I know from past efforts across Canada, that the homeowners are so very grateful that volunteers have come into their homes to help clean up.”
Please join us in praying for Burlington homeowners, that they will recover from this disaster. Pray also for our staff and volunteers, that they will bring a sense of relief and comfort to the families they help.
A Good Way To Get To Know Your Neighbors
“All of a sudden on one night we got about two months’ worth of rain in a few hours,” said Joel Bootsma, pastor of Burlington Christian Reformed Church in Ontario. “Streets were closed. We had canoes on New Street here, and the rain kept coming for hours.”
One family in his congregation had at least three feet of sewer water backup in the basement. “Everything is garbage there now,” he said, shaking his head. “Our neighbors here [by the church] had at least seven feet of water, up to the second floor. Our parking lot was covered in at least three feet of water. It knocked down fences, trees fell down… somehow our basement stayed dry.”
Seeking a way to get involved, the church eagerly responded to the Samaritan’s Purse call for a host church for our mobile Disaster Relief Unit (DRU) and team. Samaritan’s Purse has three Disaster Relief Units, which are tractor trailers outfitted with essential disaster recovery equipment including generators, pumps, hand tools, and safety gear for volunteers. It also serves as a volunteer coordination center, and is equipped with a self-contained office, communications system, and other supplies.
“It helps us,” Pastor Joel went on to say. “We’d like to be able to help our neighbors and help our community… but we don’t know how to start helping everybody. Then you guys come with this big trailer, and know how to start.”
He noted the strong enthusiasm from church members to work with Samaritan’s Purse and allow the DRU to be set up in the parking lot. “Everyone just said yes, of course, let’s move it in as quick as we can. It was exciting to see the enthusiasm from our church.”
The Burlington Christian Reformed Church’s willingness to get involved also extended to southern Alberta flood victims earlier this summer.
“We sent a team to High River, Alberta,” the pastor went on to say. “Everyone was able to take time off work to go to spend some time up there. Now, we’re hoping to help here but many of us spent all our time off to help in High River.”
Standing in the recently flooded parking lot, near one of the hardest hit streets, Joel urges everyone: “Come volunteer—help us out! You’ll be blessed by working with other people and it’s a good way to start getting to know your neighbors.”
Samaritan's Purse Responds to Burlington, Ontario Floods
Samaritan's Purse is responding to this past week's severe flooding in Burlington, ON in partnership with World Renew Disaster Response Services.
On August 4th, Burlington received approximately 13 cm (5 inches) of rain over the course of an hour. The flash flooding has affected more than 1,000 homes, mostly in the south end of the city between Queen Elizabeth Way and Lake Ontario.
Samaritan’s Purse is coordinating with local and provincial officials as well as World Renew (a Burlington-based disaster recovery organization associated with the Christian Reformed Church denomination) and other NGO partners in the area.
A Samaritan's Purse Disaster Response Unit has been stationed at the Burlington Christian Reformed Church (3422 New Street). 82 work orders have been received to clean out and sanitize homes, and 51 have been completed by Samaritan's Purse. 145 volunteers worked 1,126 hours.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada will also provide volunteer Rapid Response Team chaplains to work alongside Samaritan’s Purse volunteers in the area. The chaplains support the victims, the clean-up volunteers, and even Samaritan’s Purse staff. Recently in Melville, SK, Rapid Response Team chaplains visited flood-damaged homes while the clean-up work was underway—talking and praying with the homeowners and volunteers. When the clean-up was completed, the chaplains followed up again with the homeowners to offer more support and prayer. So far six chaplains have been deployed since August 13 and they have had more than 30 spiritual/meaningful conversations with volunteers/homeowners. They have also prayed for over 20 individuals.
Please pray that the Lord would comfort and strengthen those who were affected.
Ways you can help
Please pray that the Lord would comfort and strengthen victims of disaster, domestically and worldwide. Also lift up our Disaster Relief team; may they respond wisely and efficiently when disaster strikes, so that countless people may receive help in Jesus’ Name.
Your financial gifts of any amount are needed to bring relief to Canadian families affected by severe flooding and other disasters. Please give generously today. Donate Here