Columbia Floods; CIU Students Pray, Volunteer

October 08, 2015

By Melissa McCutchan

CIU Student Writer 

CIU students don’t normally spend their afternoons helping families clean debris from their flooded homes.  They don’t normally set up disaster relief websites. But nothing has really been “normal” since the Oct. 3-5 flood wreaked havoc across South Carolina.

While nearly a foot of rain fell in Columbia, the CIU campus was spared from major flood damage. However, CIU canceled classes Oct. 5-7 just ahead of fall break due to road closures.  With time off from classes, on-campus students were able to serve the neighborhoods around CIU.  When the skies cleared on Oct. 6, some students gathered to pray for Columbia, and went out to help a few families whose homes had been flooded.

“There’s an opportunity we have here to meet a need in the community, and it takes a community of individuals to make that happen,” senior Hannah Lingenhoel said.  “I’ve been thinking about that a lot: why were we [at CIU] spared and what can we do about it?”

Students helped dry families’ possessions, tear out waterlogged carpet, and move furniture; they made meals and passed out water bottles.

“CIU students have been awesome!” said senior Megan Brown, who has been coordinating CIU volunteers to serve a family in her church whose home flooded.  “Personal friends and freshmen that I don’t even know have shown up every day to help wherever, however.”

The service hasn’t only been in the local neighborhood. Student Senate vice president and junior Tyler Tong set up a website connecting Columbia residents in need with people who want to help.

“It was the best way that I felt I could help right now with the skills and passions that God's given me,” Tong said. “My hope is that it will function as a tool throughout the community where people can just list off their needs, and possible ways they can help, so that they can start making those connections and building bridges themselves as we rebuild the city.”

The flooding was both historic and disastrous, but through it, CIU students have been able to reflect on God’s power and their ability to serve others.

“It’s not [just] going to affect this week, it’s going to be a long process of recovery,” Lingenhoel said.  “Life is not sure, and it’s not in our control either, but God is able to use the bad things and the hard things for His glory.”