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'God's provision'

"The more I've seen of everyone working together, helping out, and making friends - the more I'm convinced I've seen God growing a tremendous good out of the flood."

BY HEATHER MOYER | CARNEGIE, Pa. | October 12, 2004


"The business district was undergoing a revitalization program and had so much money invested in it."

—Nancy Shawgo


"The more I've seen of everyone working together, helping out, and making friends - the more I'm convinced I've seen God growing a tremendous good out of the flood."

Those are the words from Nancy Shawgo, a busy volunteer at the Carnegie United Methodist Church (CUMC), in the wake of some of the worst flooding her borough of Pittsburgh has seen in years. Hurricane Ivan's remnants drenched the area, destroying numerous homes and damaging many businesses.

In response, the sanctuary of CUMC turned into a flood relief center. Since the storm, church members and other volunteers have been serving flood-affected residents with food, cleanup supplies, and sometimes just a listening ear - prompting that statement from Shawgo.

She said every need that has presented thus far has been met, thanks to God. "God's provision has absolutely been the headline of this flood. Some call it coincidence, I call it God's provision."

Thursday evening saw another busy time around CUMC as residents came in for dinner and volunteers moved about organizing donated cleaning supplies and clothing.

And despite its recovery work now, CUMC did not escape flood damage either. The basement took in two feet of water, which destroyed the nursery and all the supplies in storage.

The water that flowed through Carnegie was a raging flood, said Shawgo, strong enough to move huge concrete planters just placed in the newly refurbished downtown business district. Some homes had over a foot of water on their first floors, and many of the businesses suffered significant damage.

Shawgo said she worries about how many of the old downtown businesses will be able to return. "The business district was undergoing a revitalization program and had so much money invested in it. Some businesses lost everything, and many cannot take out any more loans at this point."

And some businesses owners suffered damage to their homes as well.

"It's been very busy, so many are suffering," explained Rev. Hyung-Suk Joe, pastor of CUMC, pausing for a moment by a dinner table. Some residents have requested pastoral counseling from Joe, and then others have not asked - but Joe knew they needed it. Raw emotions are very present, he said.

But the area ministerium is working well together, with each church taking on a different task in the recovery process. "We ask people what they need when they come in and them match them up with the right place," Joe said.

The ministerium is already looking toward long-term recovery as well, setting up a hotline for residents and planning trainings in order to assist residents with disaster relief application forms. Joe sees future cooperation with Mennonite Disaster Service on repairing and rebuilding homes as a major possibility as well.

The amount of generous volunteer support from around the city and region humbles him as well. Just that Thursday evening, a pastor from nearby Scott Township dropped in with her daughter and several trays of sandwiches and cookies. The two had worked all day to prepare the evening's dinner.

"God calls us to live together in community," said Rev. Deborah Ackley-Killian, a Methodist pastor.

Another local restaurant brings in prepared meals for the church's mission.

Area youth groups donate their time to help clean mud from homes. And then person after person has stopped by to drop off donated goods.

Shawgo again pointed to the cause of all the caring generosity.

"Being an agent of God is awesome. We're able to say that God sent us and that he cares about you. There's no better job than taking Jesus to people."


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