"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33
We are here to help! What a privilege it is to be asked to come and assist people at their point of great need. It’s an honour to be able to serve people and so serve the Lord. So when we help, we need to make sure that we help in a way that builds up, not overwhelms or destroys. Sometimes in our excitement to serve, we forget we are serving people, not doing projects. Because we care about people, not projects, we’ve put together some training and resources to help you meet the needs of those requesting help, and leave them feeling uplifted and blessed in their time of need.
Dr Tammy White – Flood Recovery: Quick Guide for Volunteers
Further PDF Resources mentioned in the video
It’s essential that we don’t go into anyone’s property without the owner’s consent. We shouldn’t start any cleanup or removal of flood-affected materials and property until directed to do so by the property owner. Remember: this is a salvage operation, not a demolition!
If you are the first person on the scene or leading a team of people, here are some steps you need to follow:
- Ensure there’s one person (the team leader) who is working with the property owner. Even if you’re the first person on the scene, let the team leader do all the talking.
- Ask the owner if they have insurance and if they’ve contacted their insurer for an assessment. Disturbing the property before an assessment is made may cause an issue with claiming insurance. Ask the owner if they have taken photos of the property/damage/impact of flooding.
- Ask them if their immediate needs are being met – safety, shelter, security, food. If they need help to meet these needs, please contact the Riverlife office to assist in meeting them.
- As the team leader, ask the owner if they’d like you to coordinate the cleanup. They may want to direct the cleanup, or even step away if it’s too overwhelming. Regardless, let them decide.
- Allow the owner to direct your cleaning efforts. They need to guide you as to what’s valuable and what’s not. Don’t throw away anything without approval. Anything that can be washed should be washed (clothes, crockery and cutlery, and so on). Even offer to take it away and clean it for them to be returned as soon as possible. Don’t demolish or damage any part of the property without the express permission of the owner.
- Respect people’s feelings and possible grief/trauma at the state of their property. They may not want help, they might change their mind in the middle of the clean-up, or they may only want help in certain parts of the property. Respect their words and their wishes. Remember we’re there to help.
- Ensure that you leave the people and the property better than you found it, in the eyes of the owner. That means paying attention to what you have brought with you, what needs to be disposed of, and what still needs to be done. Don’t promise more than you are actually able to deliver, including repair, cleaning, support and ongoing help.
- Because we are more concerned with people than projects, we have a relational responsibility to care for those we are helping. Make sure you (and anybody with you) know the owner’s name(s), they know yours, and there is a relational connection. We want to meet people’s total needs, and we know that their spiritual health is as important as their physical health. Cleaning up from a disaster may not be the right time to share the Gospel with them (though it might be as well!), but if you build a relationship with them, there will be future opportunities to build a relationship that may lead to Gospel conversations.