Rainelle UMC: From flood survivor to recovery team host


This is the sixth in a series of articles as part of the Bishop’s Appeal for Disaster Recovery for ongoing work needed for survivors of the June 2016 West Virginia flooding. Visit wvumc.org/disaster-recovery to learn more about how you can participate in our continuing efforts.

By Rev. Jonathan A. Dierdorff
Rainelle UMC

In the aftermath of the 2016 flood the Rainelle community received overwhelming support from the leadership of the West Virginia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. Before water and electricity were restored, leaders like Rev. Jeff Allen and others from the WV Council of Churches were in our community, coaching me on how to process and manage long-term recovery. Likewise, leaders from the Disaster Recovery Team were in close communication with me, guiding me along the way.

Within a few weeks after the flood Rev. J.F. Lacaria had secured an elaborate shower trailer from another conference for volunteers and work teams to use while staying in our facility. In the meantime, the Disaster Recovery Team partnered with Rainelle UMC to build permanent restrooms in our facility with showers, as well as providing funding to rehabilitate our fellowship hall that had been damaged by the flood.

As a result of the funding we received to upgrade our facility, Rainelle UMC has been able to host dozens of work teams—literally hundreds and hundreds of volunteers since the summer of 2016. In addition to hosting several United Methodist volunteers we have hosted crews from various denominations and charitable groups, gaining the reputation of being a pillar not only in the communities of Rainelle and Rupert but also places like Richwood and White Sulphur Springs.

However, in less than a year after the flood I learned why it is called “long-term recovery.” The length of time isn’t related to work ethic, but funding. Nevertheless, as I sat in multiple Unmet Needs meetings, Rev. Jack Lipphardt was one of the last representatives sitting at the table, continuing to provide funding for individuals and families to have major home repairs, appliances, and furniture.

It became clear that with the help of UMCOR and the Disaster Recovery Team, the United Methodist Church had a vital presence in long-term recovery. Not only did our communities look to the UMC for funding unmet needs and providing work teams, the leadership of our denomination also conducted the training for all of the case managers in our region.

However, we are quickly approaching the three-year anniversary of the flood and there are still members of my congregation waiting for a new home to be built. Volunteers are ready to do the hard work of construction, but the funding is not available.

I cannot imagine a more worthy cause for making a charitable donation than the Disaster Recovery Team. I am confident that the funds raised will help close this chapter of recovery and help prepare us for future opportunities to be the hands and feet of Christ. I hope you will prayerfully consider supporting this cause, as we share our witness to those in need that, “We’re still here for you. Responding with love for as long as it takes.” 

Click here to learn more about the Bishop’s Appeal for Disaster Recovery and how you can give to help us keep our promises to flood survivors.