he U.S. state of West Virginia has asked the Seventh-day Adventist Church to help oversee the distribution of aid to those affected by devastating flashfloods that killed at least 23 people and left thousands of others homeless last week.
The flooding occurred about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from Beckley, West Virginia, where Adventists from around the country will converge to offer free medical care to community members during a Your Best Pathway to Health event scheduled for July 13-16.
“The area was in dire need prior to the event. This storm compounds that,” said Minnie McNeil, a senior Adventist Community Services officer, who is spearheading the procurement of a management team to operate a warehouse at state officials' request in Belle, just south of the state capital, Charleston.
State officials have asked the church to both operate the warehouse and to process donations in Belle, said Frank Bondurant, vice president for ministries development at the church’s Columbia Union. The church also has been asked to lead out in crisis counseling and to minister to the spiritual and emotional needs of survivors.
“Your church is on the scene and actively engaged in the relief effort,” Bondurant said.
Government officials have sought Adventist assistance after previous disasters. Earlier this month, the government of the Canadian province of Alberta put the Adventist Development and Relief Agency in charges of distributing aid to people affected by a wildfire that forced the evacuation of the city of Fort McMurray.
In West Virginia, a team from Mountain View Conference’s Adventist Community Services was working with the Columbia Union and North American Division to open the warehouse Wednesday.
“Mountain View Conference will be in a position to assist, build relationships and provide ministry based on disinterested benevolence,” McNeil said. “This is our time to minister as Christ ministered.”
Larry Murphy, director of Adventist Community Services for the Mountain View Conference, appealed for volunteers.
“If you have ACS training and can spend some time in the Charleston area, call my cell at 479-238-3070,” Murphy said.
Monetary donations can be sent to the Mountain View Conference at 1400 Liberty Street, Parkersburg, West Virginia 26101 and marked “WV Flood Relief.”
“I want to thank everyone who has been praying for our neighbors in southern West Virginia,” Murphy said. “New storms have created new flooding and new victims suffering loss. Please keep this dangerous situation before the Lord in prayer.”