ELIZABETHTOWN — Imagine waking up one morning with a home, a couple of cars, a closet full of clothes, and a kitchen full of food, and by the time you were ready to lay your head down at night, you had nothing but the clothes on your back. Such was the case for many in Louisiana, and one Elizabethtown couple wanted to help.
In August, Denham Springs, La., a town of 10,215 people 10 miles east of Baton Rouge, received a devastating and historical 31 inches of rain in 15 hours.
“My wife was home watching TV, and when I called (from West Virginia) on Tuesday, my wife said, ‘I can’t wait until you get back, because the Lord spoke to me and told me we need to go to Louisiana and help flood victims,’” Hall recounted.
Hall returned from West Virginia on Saturday, posted on social media about going to Louisiana, and at 9:30 p.m. Sunday night, he and his family loaded up a 6-by-10 enclosed trailer full of donated items and headed to Denham Springs.
“When the Lord told us to go, we didn’t have but $142 to our name, and we knew we could make it there as far as gas, but didn’t know how we would come back,” said Hall. “We didn’t tell anybody — we were just going because the Lord told us to go — and that Sunday, we had a church to call us up front — not my church, but from where I did mission work in West Virginia — and gave us $500 cash and said we need to take up an offering. They took a $445 offering, and another lady gave my daughter $200, and when we left, we had $1,145. That’s exactly what got us there and got us back, down to the dollar, to help these folks out. Talk about stepping out on faith and knowing He is the Provider. He did it.”
Their five-day trip was followed by another trip in September, from which they just returned last week.
“I was not expecting the devastation I saw when we first went,” said Hall. “Ninety percent of the parish was devastated, and the 10 percent that remained were houses that were on stilts or above the flood zone. Malls, stores, hotels — everything in that area — absolutely a total loss. You name it, it was gone.”
Flooded streets, the loss the family vehicles, and public transportation that had been shut down meant families couldn’t go anywhere. Even if they had been able to move, however, they had nowhere to go. Gas stations, grocery stores, and almost every business was closed. Two days after the flooding, the mayor of Denham Springs reported that a measly seven businesses were in operation.
“We took a case of water and chips and crackers to a family and a lady came out and started crying, saying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you,’” said Hall. “She said she, her husband and their 26-year old had a jumbo jar of peanut butter, and they had been living for seven days off of peanut butter, each one taking a spoonful every three days — and they had no drinking water. They had lost their stove, their refrigerator, their brand new cars, their freezer, everything, and the only thing they had was what people were bringing them.”
In addition to delivering food, the Halls spent time doing demolition in houses to tear out damaged construction, often leaving nothing but the frame.
“The thing that impressed me most,” said Hall, “was that not one person complained. We met young families in their 30s and people in their 80s and 90s, and they were all so thankful the Lord showed up and saved them and they have a roof over their heads. Everything in it might be gone, but they have a roof.”
Hall said his church is currently planning mission trips to help the flood-ravaged northeast North Carolina and is planning a benefit steak dinner for Cody Clark in November.
To get involved in either flood ministry or to purchase tickets for the steak dinner, contact Wade Hall at 910-374-1886 or Melissa Hall at 910-874-1773.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.