Lions Help Flood Victims in Tennessee
Our disaster preparedness and relief programs enable Lions to help local communities when disaster strikes – like the recent flooding in Tennessee. LCIF is providing relief for flood victims in Tennessee and local Lions are also reaching out to help their neighbors. The following story, from 12-S District Governor Elect Cliff Swoape, shows how helping others after a disaster can truly make a difference.
As we walked up to the house, it looked like a non-event. There was a thin layer of mud on the grass, looking like nothing more than the dust from a gravel road. Lions from Dickson to Tullahoma had answered the call for help. I was wondering if this project would really make the best use of these volunteers, as our local Lion guide dropped groups of us off at houses as we travelled down the road.
A woman with pain and question in her eyes met us the driveway. We told her: “We are with the Lions Clubs and we are here to help.” Those 12 simple words changed the woman’s countenance. She broke down crying. When she gathered herself she thanked us and said that she had no clue where to even start. At this point, my 15-year-old daughter Caytrin looked at me and said, “I am staying here.” So we stayed at that house with several more, as the others went to the next house. When we walked into the house, we began to understand the despair in the homeowner’s voice.
The house was devastated. Everything had floated, covered in mud and muck, and the smell was rank. As we picked up the first items and began carrying them outside, we learned that work gloves alone are not enough; the slime quickly soaks through them. We learned that no matter how hot they made you, the respirator masks would stay in place, because if it smelled that bad, we did not want to breathe it. We filled a dumpster, and a curbside, then a front yard and a driveway. We learned more sad things in a few hours than I ever thought I knew about flooding.
We learned good things too. We learned that there was more to save in the house than the homeowner originally thought possible. We learned that while we cannot hope to help everyone, we can have a great impact on some, and it makes a difference. We learned that folks know and trust Lions, even in a town with no club of its own. The authorities guarding the neighborhoods did not give a second look once they saw our logos. They knew 12 simple words without us even having to say them: “We are from the Lions Clubs, and we are here to help.”