The day after the flood was bright and clear, and the Stroupes visited their home. They’d lost one dog, but a second survived, and their cat showed up for breakfast, rattled but ready. Their neighbor’s bull, who Brenda sometimes hand-fed, showed up to greet them. She started to sense they’d be ok.
Hidden Valley Circle was a sight to behold. As the Hidden Valley Circle neighborhood was at the bottom end of the valley it was easy to reach. An army of help arrived. “It was awesome,” said Brenda.
Many churches were represented, along with people from throughout the community. “Do y’all need help?” was the question. One man pumped the water out of the Stroupe’s basement, and a bucket line formed to muck out the mud. Another showed up with a tractor on a trailer, and when Brenda suggested they had so much help he might seek out another neighborhood, he said, “No ma’am, this is the place I’m supposed to be.”
Houses were surrounded by volunteers, carrying furniture, brandishing shovels, and doing the painful early labor of recovery. “God was using these people—their hands and feet—to do his work,” said Brenda. Bill Martin, a representative of Baptists on Mission Disaster Relief Ministry arrived., Through the organization’s Rapid Re-Housing project, Bill and other volunteers have helped numerous Haywood County residents.
The Stroupe home wasn’t as badly damaged as others, but the damage was severe, with systems ruined and water soaking into the floor on the main level. “I don’t have the family or the means to do this on my own,” Brenda explained to Bill. “I don’t have any insurance. I don’t have the money to pay for anything.” He told her not to worry. “We’re here to help you get back in your home. “You are blessing us by letting us do it.”
Brenda’s impulse was to resist, a dynamic Martin has seen many times among independent Haywood County community members. “Sometimes you have to learn to get rid of the pride and let God help,” she said. “Sometimes you do more harm than good by not accepting. ”Since then, Martin and his team of volunteers have been a steady presence for the Stroupes.
“It’s been amazing what they’ve done,” said Brenda. “Personally, I long ago forgot how to shut up,” she says with a laugh, “but Bill’s always willing to listen. It’s like having a big brother or an uncle giving you advice.”
At the end of each workday, when family and volunteers gather for prayer, Brenda gives thanks. “[God] laid it on other people’s hearts to help us,” Brenda said. “He’s used people that are willing to help.”
The Stroupe’s home is one of almost 50 houses in process of Rapid Rehabilitation since the flood. Rapid Re-Housing projects are supported by the Baptists on Mission disaster relief volunteers and with financial contributions made to Mountain Projects and the United Way of Haywood County. To contribute to ongoing emergency needs and relief efforts, please call or email Mountain Projects Executive Director, Patsy Davis, at (828) 492-4124 or email@example.com.
“We expect the recovery from this flood to take several years,” said Davis.