A Tale of Two Floods — Looking Back

September 5, 2017

If you lived in Baton Rouge during 2016, August reminds you of the 10-day flood that inundated schools, businesses, and homes. While Louisiana is no stranger to severe weather conditions, natural disasters still come as a shock. However, the area surrounding Meskine Hospital in Cameroon is a stranger to these harsh weather conditions. Yet in August 2000, multiple neighborhoods were washed away in an unexpected historical flood.

One Saturday Danny Kennison and some teammates were headed back to Meskine from a meeting in a nearby town. They were surprised to find the main road under water and took an indirect route back to Meskine hospital. It was two days before the water receded enough for Danny to get to his house in the village.

Rainwaters had flooded a dam in a village upstream from Meskine. After the gates of the dam were opened to relieve the pressure, villages downstream began to flood overwhelmed by the quantity of water flowing into shallow riverbeds. No warning was given.

In a two-mile area, 11 neighborhoods were damaged. Many mud huts with thatched or metal roofs were washed away. Besides inadequate shelter, food shortage was a large problem since families stored the grain they grew in their homes and water wells were contaminated.

After the damage was assessed, the team appealed to friends of MCWA in the U.S. and the U.K., who immediately responded with nearly $50,000 for rebuilding. The locals were awed and grateful for the help, having never heard of a private business responding like this in a crisis. Homes were rebuilt with cement bricks on the lower half of the walls to prevent loss in future floods. Water wells were disinfected twice by Dutch team member Dr. Jacqueline Koster to prevent a cholera outbreak. Deaths were few, but without the intervention of MCWA, the toll could have been much higher.

During the flood, Meskine Hospital remained dry, and since 2000 there hasn’t been another flood. MCWA rebuilt 336 homes with the help of 80 men over the course of seven months.

Back in Baton Rouge during the 2016 flood, Danny noticed some similarities between the two floods. In both, homes were lost, lives were disrupted, and flooding was unexpected. Home structure and income were incomparable, but the devastation suffered by both required someone to step in and help. In both places, believers from near and far had the privilege of entering into the void to serve those who were suffering.

And now as another catastrophic flood touches our neighbors in south Texas, once again believers have the opportunity to radiate His loving kindness to those He loves. Let’s fill the void with our prayers, our gifts, and our service. Contact your church or to see how you may come alongside and make a difference.

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