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Baptist group helps Kingsport veteran recover from flooding

July 24th, 2013 1:17 pm by Rain Smith

Baptist group helps Kingsport veteran recover from flooding

A group of local volunteers accustomed to responding to disasters across the nation are now providing assistance much closer to home, helping a World War II veteran recover from last week's flooding in Kingsport.

On Wednesday morning a Holston Baptist Association Disaster Relief Team was pulling soaked carpet and household goods out of a residence on Pinebrook Drive.

Monday night this particular crew, which operates out of First Baptist Church of Fall Branch, were on their way home from wildfire relief in Colorado when the call came in: Assistance is needed in the model city.

"This is the first volunteer work I've ever had done in my life," says 92-year-old James Collins. "I really appreciate this."

Collins leans against his crutches outside the home, watching the volunteers pull items from his residence. Inside they're moving refrigerators, vacuuming carpet and spraying for mold.

Collins is the recipient of a purple heart for his time in World War II, his wife has dementia. His sister, 95, helps provide care for them both.

But when torrential rains raised the level of a nearby creek, flooding his yard and then the home, the cleanup left more then they could handle on their own.

"I'd have had to hire somebody if I could have, which is hard to do, really," says Collins.

He reports "hundreds of items" were damaged by the flooding, including electronic goods, home furnishings and lawn mowers. His basement took in four feet of water, about three inches seeped through to the rest of the home.

Volunteer Everett Willis says the local relief team's Wednesday efforts in Kingsport are, "a little more special than the normal job."

The group is used to heading hundreds of miles west to assisted in the aftermath of flooding, tornadoes or other disasters. But this is their first job in Kingsport.

"We try to show the love of Christ by helping others," said Willis. "A lot of people don't realize the work that goes into a disaster until it hits home."

"You want to help your neighbors, and that's what we do."  

The cleanup at Collins' home was expected to last most of the day. Requests for assistance at other area homes affected by flooding are coming in, and likely to keep the group busy in Northeast Tennessee.

"We're following what the Bible tells us - that we need to be of service," said volunteer Joyce Willis.

"Disaster just happened to hit at home this time."

Photos and video by David Grace.




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