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Disaster Relief in the Aftermath of Killer Floods—Part 1

Northeastern Thailand

Family volunteers in Thailand distribute relief supplies at the local soccer field and hospital.

Family volunteers in Thailand distribute relief supplies at the local soccer field and hospital.
“God’s love can make things right.” Faith comforts flood victims at a local hospital.
Food for body and soul. Family volunteer Paul dispenses rice, words of encouragement and God’s love to victims of the Petchaboon floods.
Scenes of destruction. Hundreds of homes in Nam Khor and the surrounding area were destroyed or severely damaged by the August floods and mudslides.

In early August, heavy rains in northeastern Thailand triggered a series of flash floods. In some districts, the flooding was the worst in memory. Over 150 lives were lost, hundreds more injured, thousands displaced, and livelihoods swept away by the raging waters. Worst hit was the village of Nam Khor, in Petchaboon province. Volunteers from Family communities in Bangkok were quick to join the relief effort.

Several teams of Family International volunteers collected relief supplies: one ton of rice, 3,000 bottles of drinking water, instant noodles, fresh fruit and vegetables, canned foods, baby food, milk, 200 blankets, 200 mats for sleeping, mosquito netting, thousands of pieces of new and used clothing, and more.

Many friends and sponsors also helped with personal donations for the flood victims, or collected donations from their friends. One man rented a six-wheel truck to transport the aid T to Nam Khor. When the truck driver learned what it was for, he returned over half the rental money so the team could buy more supplies for the flood victims.

As the convoy neared the village, some of the 14 team members got out of their vehicles and walked, in order to talk with villagers they met along the way. Most of the houses and other buildings had been washed away by mudslides that had started in the mountains above the village. Everything was covered in mud—nearly up to the roofs of the houses that were still standing. Most of the villagers had lost their homes and were staying at shelters that had been set up at the local temple and school.

Distribution of relief goods began at the soccer field of the school. About 200 children lined up to receive relief packages. A five-year-old said that when the flood hit, her father had put her in a tree and told her to wait there till he came back. He never returned. Her father and mother both died in the flood. Most of the other children there had also lost parents or other family members.

In addition to food, clothing, and other supplies, our volunteers passed out hundreds of Thai-language copies of the Glimpses of Heaven booklet and posters with messages of comfort and encouragement. People kept coming back for more copies to take to friends and relatives. At one point the local police chief came to see what was going on and said, "This is exactly what the people need—hope and encouragement!"

The team also visited two hospitals, going from bed to bed and delivering the rest of the relief supplies. "People there were so needy and desperate for comfort and encouragement," one of the team recalled later, "that all we could think about was reaching out to them, touching them, holding them, and telling them that there was Someone who understood their pain and cared for them, Someone who would make things right again."

Originally Published in 2001