The summer of 2016 turned out to have many surprises.. There is an old adage that states "Expect
the Unexpected," which means indirectly "Be Prepared." With all the usual programs moving ahead, the last thing
that one needed was a flood. In June 2016 torrential rains hit West Virginia, putting many homes under large amounts of water
running everywhere in this mountain state. For many years, Medical Missionaries has had an on-going aid project in WV, particularly
in the Elkins area. One of the worst areas flooded was around Rainelle in southeast WV. Some may recall the national news
pictures of a house on fire floating down the river. Medical Missionaries made three large shipments to this area, initially
with food, cleaning products and hygiene items. Additional trips included household items, bedding and furniture, eagerly
accepted by people who had lost every thing. It will take years for the people to recover fully, particularly where there
is so much poverty, but Medical Missionaries will continue and expand the on-going project of assistance. The people
of this area are very resourceful and tough and with your continued help improvements can be made.
Just as the water was finally receding in WV, rain overwhelmed the low land and swamps of Louisiana,
particularly in the Baton Rouge area. Via friends and relatives in northern Virginia, an area outside of the major city of
Ponchutula asked for recovery help. From our experience with the Katrina hurricane in New Orleans, we knew that in disasters
such as this, large cities get most of the attention of the media and many smaller communities go unnoticed. Once again
via support from northern Virginia, Medical Missionaries was able to send a large shipment of beds, blankets, sheets and furniture
to the distressed area. Local residents were so thankful for the help that they met the delivery vehicle and took items directly
home before they even got to the local warehouse.
Shortly after those two disaster relief efforts, hurricane Mathew hit the southern coast of the
U.S., putting much of North Carolina, South Carolina, and parts of Georgia under water. Flooding east of Rte. 95 was devastating.
Despite being pushed to the limit already, Medical Missionaries was able to get a large trailer load of food and hygiene products
to a major food depot that serves 23 counties in NC.
Obviously, Medical Missionaries alone cannot solve the problems everywhere and
every time due to the limitations of logistics and limited resources, but all Medical Missionaries volunteers and supporters
can be proud of the spontaneous effort made to help so many caught in the floods. These volunteers helped to salvage a degree
of hope for so many Americans. We will do our best to continue relief efforts such as these for those who lose so much in
natural disasters. Thanks to all the donors, churches and organizations that made this response possible.
Gilbert Irwin, MD - Medical Missionaries
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