By Daniel R. Gangler
MONTICELLO, Ind. (UMNS) - United Methodists are joining other faith groups to provide relief for hundreds of northern Indiana flood survivors whose homes were heavily damaged by muddy waters.
The three northern Indiana communities of Remington, Monticello and Delphi were hard hit by early-morning flood waters on Jan. 8. Indiana Area United Methodist Bishop Mike Coyner visited with pastors of each community on Jan. 19 and toured flood-ravaged areas in Jasper, White and Carroll counties.
As of mid-January, three United Methodist churches in the area had distributed more than 500 flood buckets, received $10,000 from the United Methodist Committee on Relief to meet immediate needs of flood survivors, and coordinated help from volunteers across the state.
Coyner toured Remington with the Rev. Mary van Wijk and trustees of Remington United Methodist Church. Street curbs throughout the community were lined with water-drenched mattresses, furniture and appliances.
Most homes had a dumpster filled with debris sitting on the driveway.
More than 200 homes were affected in Jasper County, according to van Wijk.
The hardest hit residents were 57 families who lived in a trailer park.
Government authorities permitted only 35 families back in their homes.
Two senior residents, Harry and Lois Alberts, were awakened by the fire department on the night of the flood. They, along with 200 Remington residents, spent the rest of the night in the First Christian Church.
The last of 30 residents were still living at the shelter 10 days later.
The public shelter has since been closed.
The Alberts sustained more than $25,000 in damages due to a flooded basement. Coyner and van Wijk prayed with the elderly couple in a house across the street from their home, where vacationing neighbors welcomed the Alberts until their house is repaired.
"I am used to giving to people, so receiving all this help is a bit overwhelming," said Lois Alberts. "We are so fortunate friends and family help us."
Coyner visited the American Red Cross Center set up in the Remington Public Library to help residents complete forms for government assistance once the area was declared a disaster. Red Cross volunteers also handed out United Methodist-supplied flood buckets filled with cleaning supplies.
At Monticello, 30 miles east of Remington on U.S. 24, Coyner and van Wijk toured flooded areas along the Tippecanoe River between Shafer and Freeman lakes, where more than 300 homes were affected. Accompanying them were the Revs. Brian Beeks and Alex Hershey of Monticello United Methodist Church and the Rev. Todd Ladd of Delphi United Methodist Church.
They walked through the home of an elderly single woman who lost all her belongings when flood waters reached six-feet deep. The house was being mucked by a volunteer group from Indiana University in Bloomington. The volunteers received their assignment through the Monticello church, which is cooperating with 12 other area churches to assist survivors.
Ladd said more than 30 volunteers worked out of the Delphi church during the past week to provide assistance to area residents. More than 300 families were affected by the flooding in Carroll County.
Southern Baptist and Presbyterian Church USA relief groups also worked with United Methodists and other faith groups in flood relief in the three counties.
Churches wishing to make monetary donations to assist survivors of the recent flooding in North Indiana may send funds to: