SUMMERVILLE, Ga. (BP) — Floods affecting the water system of this northwest Georgia town and Baptists’ response mirrors a similar effort taking place in Jackson, Miss.
Heavy rainfall this weekend prompted churches to adjust Sunday morning schedules in Summerville, Ga. while leading others to donate bottled water and other items.
“We didn’t get as much rain yesterday (Sept. 4) or last night, so that was good,” Barry Peppers, director of missions for Chattooga Baptist Association, told Baptist Press Sept. 5. “Basically, we’re dealing with a water shortage right now and some misplaced families.
“Dwain Carter and Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief are here and assessing the situation and [Georgia Baptist Executive Director] Thomas Hammond has reached out to us alongside so many others,” he said. “We want to thank them for their help.”
The National Weather Service announced Sept. 5 that over ten inches of rain fell in Summerville, which made the Chattooga River rise almost 17 feet. That spurred the City of Summerville to issue a boil water advisory Sunday at 10:18 a.m. until further notice due to flooding at the Racoon Creek Filter plant. Chattooga County schools will be closed today and tomorrow.
Georgia Baptists’ state newspaper, The Christian Index, reported Sept. 4 that several churches had already dispatched trucks filled with bottled water to the area.
“We haven’t heard an official timeline,” said Peppers on the length of the boil water advisory. “That’s the main thing we’re dealing with right now, but we’re getting water by the truckloads.”
While floodwaters closed a section of Summerville’s downtown, damage to Southern Baptist churches has been minimal.
First Baptist, where Peppers is serving as interim pastor – received some flooding to its gym and fellowship hall. Steve Peppers, pastor of Midway Baptist and the DOM’s son, said that the church building suffered some flood damage to its basement.
North Summerville Baptist Church distributed bottled water and clothes Sunday evening and Monday. Central Avenue Baptist Church in nearby Trion gave away water Monday, with each family receiving two cases and a hot meal. Cleanup kits were also available.
Barry Peppers added that the Salvation Army is working alongside local efforts as is Second Genesis, a feeding ministry based in Cartersville, Ga., that is temporarily based at Central Avenue Baptist.
A flood watch remained in effect through 8 p.m. Sept. 5 for northern and western Georgia. Excessive runoff could result in flooding of rivers, creeks, streams and other low-lying and flood-prone areas, the National Weather Service said. Heavy rainfall remained possible, with scattered thunderstorms possible for the remainder of the week.
The Georgia storms came days after another flooding event affected the water supply in Jackson, Miss.
After a time of assessment, area churches joined Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief (MBDR), Metro Baptist Association and Rankin Baptist Association in water distribution efforts.
MBDR began distributing water to area residents Sept. 2 upon receiving a tractor-trailer load from Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief. Students from the Hinds Community College Baptist Student Union assisted in delivering the water to elderly residents.
“Her feeble voice told me she was old. (much older than I),” MBDR director Hubert Yates shared on Facebook of one resident expressed her thanks.
“’I just wanted to thank you for the water. I didn’t know how I was going to get any and I was just about out. I was so worried. I so appreciate it because I don’t drive and seldom leave my apartment,’” she told him.
First Baptist Church in Jackson, Miss., moved services to The Mississippi Trade Mart Center “due to uncertainties with the FBJ campus water pressure,” it announced on Facebook. The church has emphasized water collection through its “Bring Joy to Jackson” emphasis and is enlisting volunteers for delivery. The recovery efforts in Mississippi and Georgia occur just as many Disaster Relief personnel return from working areas affected by overwhelming Kentucky floods. In that event, at least 37 died with widespread destruction through multiple Appalachian towns.