Church members lend helping hand to Arlington flood victims

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on September 12, 2010 at 9:35 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 13 at 5:32 PM

ARLINGTON — The cleanup from last week's devastating storms continues.

Many of the flood victims will have to do the job without much help, but an Arlington church is mobilizing its 10,000 members to lend a hand.

The message Sunday morning was clear at Fielder Road Baptist Church: Neighbors need cash.

The faithful responded; as the congregation filed out of the sanctuary, they filled donation baskets.

"It could happen to me," said Deanie Matthews. "I just want to help my neighbors."

Church leaders appealed for help during services throughout the day. "Many, many families were devastated," said Senior Pastor Gary Smith.

In the end, Fielder Road Baptist raised more than $20,000.

"This is above and beyond their tithe," noted volunteer Jim Thornton.

Just a few miles away, hundreds of Arlington residents suffered the worst flooding the city has seen in years. Many of them did not have flood insurance.

Smith decided to help after touring the damage on Friday. "You're just shocked by how devastating water can be, and how hopeless folks are," he said.

The church joined others by raising money and organizing volunteers.

Kara Wilson donated her time, helping save belongings from a flooded home. "Salvage what they have," she said. "Just trying to get dishes from the 1940s, just wet and tearing. When you pick them up, just trying to salvage those special things they had."

Fielder Road Baptist is organizing more members to not only clean up, but also to rebuild.

The American Red Cross has closed its emergency shelter at Rush Creek Christian Church. The agency said it has found a place to stay for the last eight people who were there Saturday night.

The shelter opened last week to help families whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the floods in Arlington.

Residents who have debris from the flooding can place it on the curb or in a trash container. Arlington's solid waste contractor will make the rounds through September 23.

The city has also issued an emergency declaration to make it easier for victims to apply for state and federal relief funding.

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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