East coast cities and towns just barely dried out from Hurricane Irene are now facing more flooding from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee.

Irene blew ashore on the North Carolina coast as a category one storm.  Close to 200 volunteers have linked arms with Samaritan’s Purse in relief efforts in New Bern, North Carolina since the August 22 storm.

Two of those were our very own, Liana Montsinger and Steve Kamenski.  The goal of the friends who met at Elevation Blakeney was to be a blessing to those who needed help cleaning up after the storm.  But it turned out, the experience impacted them even more deeply.  “God’s hand was in it from the beginning,” explained Montsinger as she described the path that led them to the front door of Tom and Jewel Casey.

Battered belongings along New Bern streets

Kamenski says floodwaters rose to 16 inches inside the Casey home.  The day of the storm, the waters were five feet high, and neighbors had to be rescued by boat.  The musty smell of rotting carpets and upholstery was overwhelming.  But Kamenski felt a sense of peace and purpose, and a connection to the Caseys almost immediately.  “Tom reminded me of my own grandfather when he was alive,” he told me.

Hurricane Irene destroyed many of the Casey’s belongings.  Much of their flooring and walls will have to be torn out and replaced.  They’d just recently remodeled after another flood.  Of their faith, Kamenski said, “Hurricane Irene could have placed serious doubts about the Lord in their hearts, but their faith was evident and strong.”

Montsinger and Kamenski worked side by side with the Caseys.  They pulled up carpets, moved out furniture, and removed appliances that could not be salvaged.  Montsinger said it was such an honor to serve them.  “They taught me a lot about what it means to be joyful in the Lord in good times and in bad.  They were praising God in the midst of the cleanup, for his provision in their time of need.  I was so humbled by their ability to see God in the midst of the darkness.”

“This was truly a life-changing experience for me,” said Kamenski.  “I realize more than ever how lucky we really are, and how nothing is more important than our relationships.”

You can still sign up to go to New Bern to support relief efforts.  Our outreach partner, Samaritan’s Purse makes it easy to sign up volunteers.

Pastor Steven Furtick will announce this weekend how much money from Elevation Church will be going to U.S. relief efforts from recent tornadoes and Hurricane Irene.  We are also opening up two new campuses on Sunday.  Elevation Rock Hill and Elevation University will have live worship experiences at 9:30 and 11:15am.