Relief supplies a 'godsend' to Colorado flood survivors

Story by John Iwasaki / Photos by Mike Wold and Carla LaFayette

Make a one-time donation to our U.S. Disaster Response Fund. Your gift will help us respond quickly and effectively to life-threatening emergencies right here in the United States, like the recent flooding in Colorado.

R. Chris Eikenberg (left) and daughters Aylissa (middle) and Emily find shelter at Timberline Church in Fort Collins church following the Colorado floods.

In late May, R. Chris Eikenberg and her young daughters became homeless when a fire swept through their apartment in Fort Collins, Colorado. They eventually lived in a trailer and recently pitched a tent at a recreational vehicle campground.

Then torrential rains hit Colorado in mid-September, causing massive flooding. Their low-lying campsite was "like a retainer pond," Chris said. "We watched it become a lake, quickly."

Though water damaged much of their belongings, the girls—Emily, 13, and Aylissa, 11—are happy to be living in a Red Cross shelter at Timberline Church in Fort Collins, she said. "We are together. We have each other."

Chris and her girls are among the survivors in Colorado, where days of heavy rains left eight people dead, forced the evacuations of 5,958 residents, destroyed 1,882 homes and damaged 16,101 others.

Last week, World Vision shipped four truckloads of supplies—flood cleanup kits, bleach, personal hygiene products and other supplies—to four Colorado cities: Fort Collins, Greeley, Longmont, and Loveland. Supplies have been distributed by the organization's partners, including Timberline Church.

World Vision's relief supplies and other items fill tables at Journey Christian Church in Greeley.

The supplies, sent from World Vision's domestic disaster warehouse in Grand Prairie, Texas, near Dallas, are expected to help more than 7,000 survivors.

"Its been a huge impact, especially the flood packets, things we can take out to [survivors] immediately," said Terry Davis, youth pastor at Journey Christian Church in Greeley. "The hygiene kits, the flood packets, have been a godsend. When we're running low on certain things, we're able to supplement [their relief inventory] immediately."

Among the volunteers helping distribute supplies at Terry's church is Brandon Wilson, 11.

"I think it's important to help other people with what happened, just to make sure they have what they need," the sixth-grader said. "It's pretty sad that they lost everything."

Volunteering has "changed me," Brandon said, because he is now "wanting to help people more."

World Vision's Carla LaFayette (left) interviews volunteer Brandon Wilson, 11, at Journey Christian Center in Greeley.

World Vision is creating long-term rebuilding partnerships with four churches in Colorado, Freeman said, and plans to work with at least one of them to later distribute building materials, shoes, and school supplies to survivors. Those distributions are not yet scheduled.

The floods affected 17 Colorado counties across more than 1,500 square miles. Rains that started September 11 on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains washed away roads and bridges, closed several highways, and cut off communities. Though several state highways have been reopened, roads remain washed out in areas.

In May, World Vision responded to deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma and Texas, sending relief supplies from Grand Prairie. That response is now in the rebuilding stage, with donated building materials helping families to rebuild their homes.

The multiple disaster responses have depleted World Vision's pre-positioned disaster relief supplies. Donations are needed to help replenish critical supplies, with flood cleanup kits and other cleaning supplies in high demand. Building materials also will be in demand in Colorado after floodwaters recede.


Volunteer Steve Bernardo (right) managed most of World Vision's distribution at Journey Christian Church in Greeley.

How Can You Help Now?

Pray for children, families, and communities affected by the recent flooding. Pray that the damage would be minimal and that those impacted by the floods would find the help they need.

Make a one-time donation to our U.S. Disaster Response Fund. Your gift will help us respond quickly and effectively to life-threatening emergencies right here in the United States.

World Vision also is seeking volunteers at its North Texas warehouse at Grand Prairie, near Dallas, to support the organization's Colorado relief efforts. Volunteers will help sort, prepare, and pack cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items, and other supplies. (Volunteers also are welcome throughout the year to help with our ongoing warehouse needs.)

Find out how your company, organization or church can host a Hygiene Kit Event or a School Tools Event.