Betty* knows what it’s like to be up to her neck in water. When fast rising flood waters seeped into her house in Rainelle, West Virginia, the 77-year-old woman hurried outside into her backyard where she tripped in a hole. As she screamed for help, water up to her neck, she heard a voice saying, “Betty, give me your hand!”
“I don’t know where the voice came from,” Betty relates. A next door neighbor, hearing the commotion, came to help the unknown rescuer pull Betty out of the water and then went for a boat to row Betty and her disabled daughter to safety.
For a month after the flood destroyed her home, Betty couldn’t stop crying. The flood had been the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” Betty had lost her husband in 2008 and nine months later lost her mother and then her only sister. In 2012 she was diagnosed with cancer, and now she had lost almost everything she owned, including her home of 40 years. “I wouldn’t talk or eat,” Betty remembers. “I just cried.”
Family and friends worried about her. “Betty, you’ve got to stop this,” they said. “You’re going to die. You’ve got to get it in your head that you’ll be alright.” But nothing comforted her.
One evening, while sitting in her temporary home, Betty reached for the Bible a friend had given her after the flood. I have nothing else to do, I might as well read this, she thought. The Bible fell open to Psalm 69, which started with, “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck.”
As Betty kept reading, she realized many of the verses in the chapter fit her situation exactly. Verses like, “I cannot get my feet on solid ground” and “I have cried until I cannot cry anymore.” In that moment, Betty decided to stop crying, get up, and help put her house back together.
“That Bible straightened me up,” she says.
DRS staff and volunteers came in and helped Betty restore her house. They repaired the foundation, insulated the crawl space, hung sheetrock, trimmed, painted, put in flooring, and cleaned. They had many opportunities to walk alongside Betty and encourage and comfort her as she faced life after the flood.
“I have had such wonderful, wonderful people that came in to help,” she says gratefully. Betty was especially encouraged when volunteer groups sang for her. In fact, she didn’t let a group leave her house without requesting a song.
At times, Betty has to cry again. She has lost many things that can never be replaced. She has faced a few setbacks in getting back into her house. But today she is a joyful woman who loves to tell the story of how God rescued her from deep waters.
*Name changed to protect identity.
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