California-Nevada United Methodists Called to Volunteer in Fernley, Nevada

April 25, 2008

By Sue King*

The Fernley Long-term Recovery Team invites California-Nevada United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) teams to help rebuild the flooded homes in Fernley, Nevada. Volunteers can also help in the Disaster Recovery office and the Fernley Thrift Store which provides flooded residents with clothing and household goods. Team leaders and individual volunteers need to call Sue King at the CA-NV UMVIM office to coordinate the dates of their mission trip, arrange local housing, and to obtain insurance coverage.


Who are the 80+ flooded households being helped by churches and community organizations that form the Long-term Recovery Team? They are individuals and families. They are elderly and disabled persons living on fixed incomes. They are young working couples with families who were just making ends meet before the flood waters turned their homes and lives into shambles. They are those who are ineligible for federal or state assistance or who were denied federal low-interest federal loans because their income is too low. Some are already carrying debt and feel they don't dare to take any additional loans for fear of risking their homes. They may have received a FEMA grant of up to $28,800, but it is woefully insufficient to repair their homes, replace the clothing, furniture, cabinets, and appliances and, yes, even cars – which were totally destroyed by the rush of icy, cold waters on January 4, 2008 when the Truckee Canal levee failed. 


The H. family of seven was at home when flood waters crept under the doors and filled up their home. The photo of the front door of the H. residence shows the water level inundating their home and the damage done to furniture, electronics, carpet, and walls. They have managed to repair most of the damage, but have no money left to replace furniture and appliances and the three cars lost in the floodwater. Mrs. H. is especially anxious to get her 6 ft. 7 in. teenage son an extra-long twin bed, because he can't stretch out in the donated twin bed he is now using.


Mrs. D. and her children have been living more than 1,000 miles away from Mr. D. since the flood occurred. He has stayed in Fernley to keep his job and slowly replace the damaged insulation, sheetrock, ducting, and flooring while his family has moved in with relatives and enrolled in schools back East. The family is desperate to be reunited, but the work is slow and lonely and seems overwhelming at times.


Mr. and Mrs. S. are living in the driveway of their home in their RV with two teenage grandchildren while they are repairing their flood damaged home. (Sounds just like New Orleans, doesn't it?) Although they are doing all the work themselves to save money, there still isn't enough money from their FEMA grant allowance to buy all of the building materials needed. And how long will it take these retired grandparents to replace the personal belongings and furnishings of their home, let alone to plan for post-high school education for the grandchildren?


Mrs. J. has a steel rod in her back and is physically unable to shovel out the many inches of mud that settled in her yard, let alone repair her home and redo the landscaping around her house


The stories go on.


These are real people, with real needs – just like you and like me. They didn't ask for this trouble, they didn't build in a high risk area, and they are not asking for a bailout. But a helping hand and a word of encouragement would make a world of difference.


*Sue King is Disaster Response Coordinator and UMVIM Director for the California-Nevada Annual Conference.