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In case you are wondering how Adventists responded to the floods a week ago in the Pendleton and Walla Walla area here is a report put together with bullet points from Patty Marsh and information from pastor Dan Solis. Disasters like this take time to resolve and there is also a way you can help this coming Sabbath.

Many of the photos at the bottom of this article are from the kitchen used to feed the Red Cross shelter guests in Walla Walla. Dan Solis says, "We fed the volunteers and guests from Saturday until, Wednesday." Following that he and Mike Lambert and Gary Gibson continued to assist with spiritual care along with other helpers.

When the floods hit several counties in southern Washington and North-central Oregon during the weekend of February 8, the areas especially hard hit were in Pendleton, Walla Walla and outlying parts of Umatilla County.  Here is a sampling of what Adventist Community Services (ACS) and volunteers have been doing to assist.

  • Walla Walla University students filled 30,000 + bags of sand and to date have logged 7000 hours volunteering in this disaster;
  • Walla Walla Valley Academy with less time and students still filled over 8,000 bags of sand;
  • Individual members sheltered evacuees;
  • SonBridge, in College Place, was on a one-hour alert for providing shelter for evacuees.  They were willing, in spite of the fact that the next morning was the yearly constituency meeting;
  • From Sabbath through Wednesday Adventist volunteers including lots of young people fixed meals for the evacuees at the Red Cross shelter in Walla Walla;
  • A young private business owner from Coeur d'Alene, Albert Rorabeck, happily shared one full day and his big truck to drive the ACS Disaster Response trailer filled with flood buckets and supplies needed to man a donations warehouse to Walla Walla fairgrounds first, and then on to Pendleton Convention Center;
  • With short notice, a MARC (Multi-Agency Response Center) was planned for Thursday in Pendleton. Linda & Phil Ruud, Shawn Ruud and Pastor Gibson from Pendleton have been key in the Pendleton area for planning the ACS response. Adventist Community Services provided a booth that included free flood buckets filled with what items needed in the cleanup.
  • Also, ACS was asked to provide an Emotional and Spiritual Care team.  Thank you to Dan Solis, Gary Gibson, Jeff Kinne, and Mike Lambert.
  • Video where you see a great screenshot of the ACS Disaster trailer and two shots of ACS flood buckets – 1:00 minute; 1:05 minutes, 1:16 minutes.
  • On Friday, Feb. 14, a MARC was held in the Walla Walla area.
  • This past weekend ACS was asked to open a Donations Management Warehouse for goods that will be donated and shipped in for the survivors. 

A special thank you to Doug Venn, ACS DR Coordinator of the UCC Southern District who has worked tirelessly as well as Phil and Linda Ruud from Pendleton.

David Lopez, WWU Center for Humanitarian Engagement; Linda & Phil Ruud; Doug Venn; Norman Thiel, SonBridge; Dan Solis; Larry Mays, NPUC Disaster Response Coordinator; Byron Dulan, ACS, NPUC; and Patty Marsh, UCC ACS Director -- have spent hours this past week joining a daily phone call with Red Cross, state of Oregon, VOAD members and other organizations trying to pinpoint how best ACS and volunteers can bring the greatest support to these individuals and communities. In disasters circumstances change by the hour – communication and flexibility between organizations are key. 

And our Pathfinders . . . deserve a final big thank you, as last spring many Pathfinders under the direction of UCC Pathfinder Coordinator, Richie Brower, filled 150+ flood buckets. At that time, almost a third of the buckets were delivered to three different Native American communities in Eastern Washington that experienced flooding. And then the flood buckets were stored.  Because floods give little warning, what a blessing that those buckets that sat almost year, were ready to load up. 

Early Wednesday morning a call came from the Senior Red Cross Manager to Patty Marsh, "Do you by chance have flood buckets? We are in great need here for evacuees at the Walla Walla Fairgrounds?"

With excitement, Patty was able to tell the Manager that the flood buckets were a little over an hour out. Through the combined efforts of many, these buckets were one more way Adventists can share with a hurting world, "We care . . ."

Ways to Help

Here is a way members can assist. There will be a special offering next Sabbath on February 22. A special offering will be taken at the close of the church services in UCC churches for Adventist Community Services Disaster Response. Thank you for your generosity that makes such a response possible.

For those who would like to volunteer, here is a link to use to indicate your desire to volunteer.

According to David Lopez, executive director for the Center for Humanitarian Engagement at Walla Walla University, there have been some incredible stories of God's blessing. Here is one such story. He keeps a volunteer page updated here:

A lady from Mill Creek area shared her personal story with me today of how she was sure she was not going to survive. Her husband was in CO, and she was loading anything she could get into her truck. She barely made it across the bridge before it was swept away. When she returned to her home mud was 12-24 inches all around her house and when she finally was able to open her front door, she was shocked. Only a small pool of water from her front door (where she had three hearts that said Blessed) went back to her back door where she had a rug with the words BLESSED was all the water in her house. Everything else was mud and water-free. She couldn't believe it and our group was able to remind her of God's promises and offer a prayer of thanksgiving and continued blessing over her.

Here is a link to some photos from WWU, shared by David Lopez:  Photos

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Alissa, Elliot, Judy, and Nicole.

Nicole and Judy preparing food.

John looks happy to help make food!

The food was enjoyed by all!

WWVA students filling sandbags!

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