HOUGHTON COUNTY, Mich.—Two Regular Baptist churches in the Houghton and Dollar Bay areas of Michigan are serving their communities after massive flooding Father’s Day weekend severely damaged homes and washed out roadways.
On Thursday, Regular Baptist Builders Club contacted both churches: Evangel Baptist in Houghton and Bethany Baptist in Dollar Bay.
Pete Cattelino of Evangel Baptist says his church is in good shape and that he is not aware of any significant damage to church families’ homes except for small amounts of water in some people’s basements. However, he says local officials estimate that between 150 and 200 area homes received significant flood damage.
Sunday services will be moved this weekend to another location because Evangel Baptist is being used as a community volunteer staging center. Church members and county officials are dispatching teams of hundreds of people every day to clean area homes and driveways. “Volunteers are being deployed out of our church to muck out homes and clear driveways that are covered in several feet of rubble,” Cattelino says.
“This is a big hit for a small town like us,” Cattelino says. “We appreciate hearing from our brothers and sisters, and we appreciate the prayers for us and our community.”
Just east of Houghton is Dollar Bay, where Bethany Baptist Church is located. Pastor Brian Knight says he and his church family are very thankful to the Lord that their church and homes escaped virtually untouched. The church is fine and some members’ homes have minor yard damage and debris, but nothing compared to the devastation many people encountered.
“I was on my way to church at 5:30 Sunday morning when the storm hit, and the fire department just turned me around,” Knight says, adding that he was envisioning the church filling up with water. One of the deacons made it to the church later in the morning and cleaned up the one wet spot in the carpet with a shop vac. “It was dry in 30 minutes,” Knight says. “We are extremely blessed as a congregation.”
The rest of the community was not so fortunate. The flooding left some homes destroyed, while next-door neighbors escaped unscathed. “Some homes have six to seven feet of sediment in their basements, and their neighbors have nothing,” Knight says. “The flooding was very isolated.”
On Wednesday night a group of about 30 members of Bethany Baptist organized a work detail to help homeowners in the nearby town of Hubble. “Our group shoveled driveways and dug sediment out of yards and sidewalks,” Knight says.
Local families have been told that they will be receiving federal assistance but have not been told what type or when. “The long-term needs are not tangible yet,” Knight says. “I know there will be long-term needs. As we learn about them, we will reach out.”
In Houghton, government services are meeting immediate needs, but Cattelino thinks the region will have sustained, ongoing needs for some time. Currently people and groups are needed to assist with the cleanup efforts, says Nate Marsh, associate pastor of Evangel Baptist. Those who are willing to help will be processed at the church for clearance to enter the flood zone, receive instruction on work procedures, and receive identification and equipment for assistance. Please phone 906.233.6621 if you are planning to assist in the cleanup operations.
In addition to physical help, financial donations are also needed. People desiring to contribute financially may do so at the website of the Portage Health Foundation (Hancock, Michigan). Donations will go to the regional relief efforts. People desiring to donate directly to Evangel Baptist Church and Bethany Baptist Church to assist church families in their recovery efforts may contribute at the website of the Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches. Designate your gift “CPR Flood Relief.”