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Kirby Smith and Dale Elmore, missionaries from Baptist Disaster Relief, removed drywall from a flood damaged house in Indiahoma.

Missionary groups help clean out houses of area flood victims

Since the heavy rains from last month turned parts of Southwest Oklahoma into a disaster zone, people from all over the country have flocked here to bring aid and a helping hand. 

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief has been here for weeks and plans to keep bringing volunteers to the areas dealing with the most suffering until further notice. 

The relief groups that are bringing aid to families in Lawton, Cache, Elgin and the surrounding areas are staying at First Baptist West in Lawton. Most recently, groups from New Mexico and Mississippi have been working in Indiahoma to help clean out houses that were underwater, taking out damaged wood, insulation and drywall and treating the houses for mold. 

"It's been a wonderful experience," Indiahoma resident Larry Nadingham said of the aid he has received from Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. "(They) have changed our way of thinking. Wonderful people."

"I know the Lord was leading me into doing some kind of mission work," said Ruth Ann Kohnke. She and her husband Rick have been working with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief since Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. 

In order to volunteer with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief one must go through an extensive background check and complete a number of courses to be prepared for every part of a disaster, everything from child care to chainsaw work. 

"They have taken everything out," said flood victim Tommy Weeks of how Southern Baptist Disaster Relief has helped him and his wife, Sue, with the cleanup of their house. Within a day, this crew has removed "around 20 percent of the Sheetrock."

The Weeks have lived in their Indiahoma home for more than 22 years and said it has never flooded before. They estimate their home has sustained $130,000 to $140,000 dollars in damage. 

"We have to gut the whole house," He said. 

"I have never been so blessed in my life," Sue said. "It's a miracle story." 

"You get more out of it than what you give," said Ronnie Ferrell, lead coordinator for the Mississippi volunteers. 

Ferrell said the size of the relief group depends on the size of a disaster, and they will rotate personnel until they stop receiving calls. At the moment there are over 20 calls in Southwest Oklahoma that Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is working on. A group stays for a week and works to clean out at least three homes. 

The Lawton Constitution

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