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Church group delivers flood relief and restores faith in humanity

By NICOLE PITT

HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) - Victims of the Flood of 2013 are getting help from several organizations like The United Way, The American Red Cross and The Salvation Army. There are also some out of state church groups coming to their aide.

Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief teams are in town and helping people "mud out" in many places. One group of volunteers was cleaning out on North Bellinger Street in Herkimer on Wednesday. "They've been here all day and they were here last night and really they did a phenomenal job for me," said Patty Volo.

Patty was not home the morning of the flood. She was with her husband who was receiving a dialysis treatment. Before the floods, the Volo's basement was finished with an office, a bedroom and laundry room and a living area.

Pastor Dennis O'Neill from Living Gospel Baptist Church in Rutherford, NJ says a flood at his church years ago prompted him to start volunteering with the Southern Baptist Convention Group. "About 8 years ago our church got hit with a flood and we called Southern Baptist Church and they sent a team over to help clean out our church and they tore out carpets and they vacuumed and they disinfected and my wife and I were so impressed we said we'd like to do this," said Pastor O'Neill.

There are Southern Baptist groups in the area from other parts of New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Virginia. They all set up camp inside the Crosspoint Church in Whitesboro. That's where the group is sleeping and showering while they are in town. They've also had a lot of help from other not for profit organizations. "It's great. As volunteer organizations we work together and we help each other and the main thing is we are helping the people in need," said Pastor O'Neill. "And there's a great need here. We just need more volunteers."

Pastor O'Neill's group that cleaned out Patty's home is made up of four volunteers. Paul Coleman and Jon Pearson are also from New Jersey. The fourth member of the crew is Jim Myers, a member of the Crosspoint Church from Floyd.

"It's a joy just working with them. It's something we do just because we want to do it, nothing else," said Coleman. Coleman knows what it's like for these homeowners. His home was damaged from Superstorm Sandy last year. "It happens a lot in New Jersey. Not quite as bad as here though. They've never had it here before. They're not used to it."

The crew rips up the carpets and removes the damaged items from the home. Then they disinfect the home with a hospital strength solution that is both pet and people friendly called Shockwave. "At 60 degrees mold is growing and there was a lot of mold on the paneling behind and in front. It just has to go out," said Pastor O'Neill. "They are going through a real crisis here. A real tragedy. It's hard to deal with. Not only losing possessions but the disaster is so overwhelming. I think people need to understand this is a real disaster. This isn't something minor. This is a disaster. You are talking a lot of mud in homes and you are talking a lot of water still in home and debris."

Patty Vole says she is so grateful for their help. "I have a lot of gratitude and appreciation. I do. I love these guys because they got my cellar all cleaned out and the stench is out," said Volo.

"They are wonderful people and they are so grateful," said Pastor O'Neill. "A lot of them say can we give you something can we give you a donation and we say no, no, we are here we are happy to do this."

When the job is done and the crew is all packed up, they gathered with the homeowners for a prayer.

"We are here simply to share the love of God in a very simple way and it's our blessing to serve," said Pastor O'Neill.

"They have been a Godsend to me. Really," said Patty Volo. "Without them I would have had nothing done."

Patty's daughter Morra lives out of state but was back home this week for her aunt's funeral and to help her mother with cleanup. "They restored my faith in humanity. You can't count on FEMA or the state to pull you through but the kindness of others. Thank God for them. They are doing God's work," said Morra Volo.

This crew will be working at a home on Bellinger Avenue in Herkimer on Thursday and then is heading home on Friday. More groups are expected to come next week. Anyone willing to volunteer is asked to call Beverly at (716) 512- 4334.

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