The Rains Came Down And the Floods Came Up

June Hadland had her first canoe ride several weeks ago. Flood waters rose up to 44 inches in her now—lakeside home of 24 years in Adna, Wash. Jerry Swena, Chehalis Church head deacon, was a first responder who got trapped and needed to be rescued by helicopter. Brad and Deborah Mills thought their home was safe from flood waters—only to come back and discover they lost nearly everything.

Raymundo Gomez was stranded on the second floor of his home with his baby daughter and waited for three days to be rescued. Dan Baker, Lewis County Adventist School (LCAS), principal, changed weekend snowshoeing plans and joined emergency room physicians and nurses to volunteer in the community. When he had a massive heart attack, the medical personnel were able to immediately help him—and save his life.

The stories of people's lives, interrupted, continue. "We're not dealing with things, we're dealing with people—people whose hearts have been broken," says Tom James, Centralia pastor. "It's important to talk about hope, to believe in hope, and to live in hope. We don't know if the words we share may be exactly what someone needs to hear to pull him or her through."

In the last few weeks, students at LCAS and Auburn Adventist Academy (AAA) and adults from various churches in the region and beyond, have volunteered time and skills in the community to help recovery efforts.

"Even with disrupted schedules, students have maintained willing and cheerful attitudes, while helping with community service," says Earlene Wohlers, LCAS office manager. "Every student is able to help in some way, [from baking cookies and bread to shoveling mud] and that is a good feeling among the student body."

Nearly 50 AAA students volunteered to help five families remove insulation, shovel mud away from house foundations and clean up water-soaked homes. "It was muddy and kind of smelly but really rewarding," says Marty Toebe, a senior from Renton, and student body president.

John Freedman, Washington Conference president, and Adventist Community Service (ACS) leaders met with local church members in early January to discuss recovery plans. "We are grateful for the protection of our church and community families," Freedman says. "The conference family is concerned about their sister churches and want to help. There are 101 ways to help, and we are determining the best way to help."

Typically, ACS provides warehouse management through the state. However, in this disaster response, long-term recovery efforts are being explored. Donation and volunteer needs vary from day to day. For more information, visit or call (253) 681-6008.

"The best way for you to help right now," says Mark Terry, Southern Federation president, "is to prepare your family for a disaster."

February 01, 2008 / Washington Conference

Heidi Martella, Washington Conference associate communication director