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By Laura Sikes
N.Y. – Hurricane Sandy survivor Cecelya
Morsby faced near eviction in March 2015 from her flooded home in Freeport,
N.Y., before Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers came to her aid
more than two years after the storm’s surge ravaged the coastal town on Long
Island’s south shore.
Morsby’s home of
16 years was one of about 4,000 damaged by ocean waters that moved inland for
about one mile, flooding almost every structure in the community of 50,000.
The retiree, a
sales executive with a major car company, evacuated her home and lived with her
daughter in Manhattan for most of the time after the storm. Afflicted with
chronic illnesses, Morsby also underwent vascular surgery. She was unable to
tend to her home for needed repairs.
In June 2014,
she returned to live alone in her deteriorated home. Like many homeowners had
done for months after the storm, she continues to live upstairs having only
partial power, little heat and no hot water while waiting for repairs. Morsby said
she had not reached out for help early on because she thought her insurance
would cover the damage. In early March 2015, her daughter, Monisha Mapp, contacted
Nassau County’s Department of Aging for assistance and her mother’s case was
referred to SBDR.
“We saved her
from eviction at the 11th hour,” said Sandy Rebuild Project
Coordinator Bill Johnson. “The day I called her they [inspectors] had red
tagged the house.” The home was days away from being condemned, he said.
Johnson said he
immediately called city inspectors, whom he had built relationships with, to
notify them that SBDR would begin work right away on Morsby’s house.
Because of her
absence Morsby had no idea that Southern Baptist volunteers were serving on
Long Island. SBDR volunteers first were based just blocks away from Morsby’s
home through December 2014 at Calvary Protestant Evangelical Free Church in
Baldwin, N.Y. Currently, Sandy Rebuild works out of the New York Institute of
Technology in Central Islip, N.Y. The college has housed SBDR volunteers in its
dormitories since January 2014.
In March, SBDR
collegiate teams and other volunteers from six states including Florida,
Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Oklahoma and South Carolina, worked on Morsby’s house.
They tore out and repaired ceilings, hung sheetrock and painted the rooms downstairs.
One of the first
teams sent to Morsby’s home was made up of Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) students
from Mercer University and Wesleyan University of Macon, Ga.
hesitant to answer the door when the team first knocked, said Chris Fuller, BCM
Director of Macon.
“When we showed
up that first day, she had obviously lost all hope,” he said. “She was
extremely reserved, shy and quiet.”
The six inches
of water from the storm combined with water pipes freezing and bursting had
left the home’s interior in shambles. Water leaks had ruined the ceilings in
her living room and dining room. Students began removing china and glassware from
large china closets on top of the soggy, moldy carpet, which they removed. Others
worked cleaning the kitchen, even washing dishes that were piled a foot high on
the kitchen counter, Fuller said.
Tory Aina, 18,
helped clean out the kitchen. Morsby joined them in the kitchen and started
opening up and talking with them, she said.
such a mess, debris was everywhere,” said Aina. “I couldn’t believe that she
was still living there on the top floor. We took it all in and got right to
work. Something that seemed so minor as washing dishes really helped her. She
was very thankful that we were cleaning up for her.”
Aina said she
felt Morsby was drawn to her because she also was African American. Morsby began
sharing about her life and showed her family pictures.
imagined that God would use my race like that,” she said.
The team started
to bond with Morsby, she said. During the week, they gave her a Bible signed
with personal notes and favorite verses.
Fuller said he
noticed Morsby’s transformation during the students’ time with her. He said he
will never forget what she told them as they left: “My house is starting to
look like a home again.”
“By the end of
the week she had started to smile,” Fuller said.
Dressed to go to
church on Good Friday, Morsby said she was so thankful for the work.
been so professional and nice,” she said. “They worked so fast and were so
diligent. I am so thankful for them.
For information about Sandy Rebuild, email office
at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 770-410-6075.
wishing to donate to SBDR relief can contact the Baptist convention in
their state or visit https://donations.namb.net/dr-donations. For phone
donations, call 1-866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543,
Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.”
NAMB coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses
to major disasters through partnerships with 42 state Baptist conventions, most
of which have their own state Disaster Relief ministries.
Southern Baptists have 65,000 trained
volunteers—including chaplains—and 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw,
mud-out, command, communication, child care, shower, laundry, water
purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the three
largest mobilizers of trained Disaster Relief volunteers in the United States,
along with the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.
Laura Sikes writes for the North American
Date Created: 4/20/2015 11:30:22 AM
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®© Copyright 2015 North American Mission Board, SBC