Flood Waters Hampers Operation Compassion

By , May 9, 2003
Flood water rises against the Operation compassion warehouse.

Flood water rises against the Operation compassion warehouse.

When the tornadoes hit Sunday evening and torrential rains began on Monday, Operation Compassion staff knew it would be a difficult and busy week. However, no one knew how challenging it would ultimately become.

By Tuesday morning over six inches of rain had fallen in Cleveland, TN and the surrounding area causing streams and creeks to overflow into raging rivers of churning water. Staff at Operation Compassion’s warehouse in Cleveland began to notice the road filling with water.

At first, it appeared the storm drains would handle the water flow successfully. However, it did not take long for the drains to be overwhelmed and water began to back up. Within a couple of hours there were two feet of water standing between the warehouse staff and dry ground. David Lorency, International Field Director of Operation Compassion, closed the warehouse sending workers home.

The entire area around the warehouse faced high water.

The entire area around the warehouse faced high water.

By noon on Tuesday, there was four and one half feet of water in the roadway and it was rising. The water was within two feet of rising above the dock floor and seeping into the warehouse. David Lorency and Tim Burdashaw, Development Director of Operation Compassion, watched and prayed. It truly was a disaster in the making!

Operation Compassion had committed emergency relief supplies to areas across the nation and now the main warehouse was being besieged. Suddenly, the rains stopped almost as abruptly as they had started. The sun tried to shine! Over the next several hours, the floodwaters began to recede. By that evening, Operation Compassion was able to gain access to the warehouse and load semi trucks headed for other disaster sites.

However, the danger of flooding had not passed. During the night, torrential rains again fell and by morning the floodwater had risen to the same depth as on Tuesday. The warehouse was closed again. David Lorency and his staff stood by and watched as the waters continued to rise.

By the time the rains stopped, mid-day Wednesday, Cleveland had received over one foot of rain. What developed from this storm system was some of the worst flooding in thirty years. Thankfully, there was no loss of life related to the flooding.

Operation Compassion had weathered a disaster at its own site and continued to service other disaster sites at the same time. Never before, in the history of Operation Compassion, had disastrous conditions affected emergency relief efforts. In commenting on this unique situation, David Lorency said, “While the warehouse had to be closed for a short time on two occasions, it was good to know what can be done. No product was lost and only one semi truck was delayed by s couple of hours. Through it all, the warehouse staff did an excellent job under adverse conditions.”

While the flooding was averted at the Cleveland warehouse, there are still many that are suffering from the continued outbreak of severe weather. Since Sunday, May 4, 2003, more than 250 tornadoes have touched down across the United States. Disaster relief efforts are ongoing across the affected areas. The disaster relief fund of Operation Compassion has quickly diminished.

Financial support for all these disaster relief efforts can be directly sent to Operation Compassion. Product donation, volunteers or other inquiries can call the office.

Tim Burdashaw

John D. Nichols, President
Operation Compassion

Anyone interested in donating finances or products or providing a corporate lead may contact:

Operation Compassion
David Lorency, International Field Director

114 Stuart Road, NE
Suite 370
Cleveland, TN 37312
423.728.3932 – Office
423.596.4200 – Fax

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