CANALOU – As the floodwaters rose, so did the wall of sandbags here around First Baptist Church.
“We were sandbagging and sandbagging,” said Pastor DeWayne Coleman. “We’re just grateful that God spared us and that nobody here lost their life.”
There were lost homes, however, including that of P.J. Flanders, a member at First Baptist. Coleman said that while the water was flooding Flanders’s home, he was still sandbagging around the church.
“He’d just say bring me more sandbags,” Coleman said.
Flanders and others not only built a four-foot tall make-shift levee around First Baptist, they also worked to protect nearby homes and an Assembly of God church.
“I’ve been pastoring 20 years and I’ve never met a lot of the people who came here to help,” Coleman said.
Canalou was evacuated at the height of the recent floods, and all but one of First Baptist’s members left their homes. The lone holdout was an 80-year-old woman who not only stayed, she baked cookies for the National Guard troops. She was safe, but the homes of several other church members were flooded.
“It’s just worldly possessions,” Coleman said.
The first Sunday during the flood the church met in members homes. By Mother’s Day, the waters had receded enough that they could meet at the church. They normally run 40-45 on a Sunday morning and that morning, despite many people still unable to access town, 34 showed up.
More importantly, one boy belonging to a family that hadn’t been to the church in years accepted Christ.
“God does work in mysterious ways,” Coleman said. “Everybody gave praise, never mind about the flood. Everybody was just so thankful. It was a hard time, but it brought a lot of people together.”
BRIAN KOONCE/staff writer