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North Carolina-based ministry in St. Louis trains volunteers to help flood victims

Homeowners affected by the flood or volunteers looking to help can get involved with Samaritan's Purse's disaster relief efforts through Oct. 1.

ST. LOUIS — When flooding hit St. Louis in July, Sarah Schafer woke up to find water rushing up the stairs from the basement.

"It sounded like a jet engine, it was so loud," Schafer said. "We lost, I mean, over $200,000 worth of belongings if you include the things in the house plus two vehicles."

To help with the cleanup process, she got in touch with Samaritan's Purse, an Evangelical Christian organization based in North Carolina.

"We are volunteer-lead. We strictly use volunteers to do all the work," Program Manager Clay Steelman said. "There's three staff members and then everything else is volunteer."

Steelman is looking for anyone, no experience needed, to help flood victims.

"You'll sit through a quick, 30-minute orientation where we go over some of the safety hazards and then the expectations of what we have," Steelman said.

Volunteer training is offered at 7:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday at First Baptist Church of Ferguson, then you'll head out to a site with a team leader.

"We'll send you out to pre-assigned job sites where you'll help homeowners remove their belongings. That's water-logged furniture, clothing, sheetrock, carpet, mattresses anything that got affected from the flood," Steelman said.

Since the beginning of August, they've helped more than 160 homeowners. Crews are out working on about five houses a day.

"This process is actually going to make it a little easier for us because some of the harder work has been done," Schafer said.

There are 211 St. Louis homeowners on their list, and they're willing to help more. 

"As of right now, we're scheduled to be here through Oct. 1, but we'll stay until all 211 jobs are completed so we don't leave until we've helped everyone who's called in a requested help," Steelman said.

Anyone aged 14 and up can volunteer. Minors need an adult with them.

If you'd like to volunteer, visit spvolunteer.org.

For homeowners seeking help, call 314-857-9713.

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