Smith Family – Letcher, Kentucky
“If you’ve never seen a flood – just imagine everything that people have worked for is completely ruined. Imagine having four feet of water in your house. This is the reality for the people there in Letcher, Kentucky,” said Chris Chiles, God’s Pit Crew Immediate Disaster Response Coordinator.
The flood that ravaged southeast Kentucky was labeled a “once in every 10,000 years” catastrophic event. Sweeping through 14 counties, killing 45 people and displacing thousands more, this flood was like nothing anyone in the area had ever witnessed before. The Smith family of Letcher, Kentucky, unfortunately understood the magnitude of the flood very well.
Nathan, Jamie, and their children Grace and Harley, watched from the hill facing their home as the rushing water from the nearby creek began to take over their house.
“I just don’t understand. I don’t understand how this has happened so quick,” Jamie told of the horrifying scene that night. “Where’s all of the rain coming from? When is it going to stop? I prayed, ‘Lord let the rain stop, I can’t do anymore. This is as far as I can go.’”
God’s Pit Crew spent several weeks in Eastern Kentucky following the devastating floods in which volunteer teams helped countless families muck out homes, treat for mold, clear debris, and supply and set up dehumidifiers. While helping the people of the rural Kentucky town, the Immediate Response team met the Smith family who shared their story of losing everything to the ruinous waters.
“This couple is hard working, they love the Lord, and they’re in a tough spot,” reported Chris Chiles, God’s Pit Crew Immediate Disaster Response Coordinator. “They desperately needed help.” From there, God’s Pit Crew went into action planning to build a brand new three-bedroom, two-bathroom home for the Smith family.
Jamie Smith said, “I was hesitant when I first got the phone call. This just doesn’t happen. How do people build you a completely free home and furnish it?”
The crew did just that. Nearly 100 volunteers from multiple states came together in Letcher, Kentucky, to build and fully-furnish the new home.
“We’ve always been able to build these houses with God’s help and direction very quickly, but this home in Letcher, Kentucky – from the first nail being driven to when we walked the family through the front door — was completed in 10 days,” shared Randy Johnson, God’s Pit Crew President. “Incredible to see a team of volunteers come together to put a house together with excellence, not just thrown together, in 10 days, start to finish!”
“It’s so much better than what we could have ever expected. I couldn’t ever dream it would be this beautiful. It’s gorgeous,” said Jamie Smith. “There are no words to explain what it means to finally be home.”
Ellis Family – Nunnelly, Tennessee
It is easy to live day-to-day not giving much thought to the many blessings that surround us: a house for shelter, a car for transportation, pots and pans to cook in, blankets for warmth – and the list goes on and on.
After being victims of the deadliest flood in middle Tennessee history, Sammy and Vickie Ellis know all too well how it feels to think back on not only all of the possessions they once had, but all of the memories connected to those things. The couple found themselves surrounded by flood waters during the August 2021 storm watching as their home was lifted from its foundation and washed down the street. Their calls for help at the time, not going far.
“We were calling 9-1-1. I bet I called them six times, and each time they said, ‘Ma’am there’s nothing we can do. We can’t get to you,’” shared Vickie. “We were just sitting there praying and I kept saying, ‘Lord, just let the rain stop.’”
“We lost our house. We lost all our content inside and out. All our tools and lawn equipment. We lost both vehicles. Very little was salvaged,” Vickie Ellis told while recounting the impact the flood had on her family. “We lost our home that day. We lost our hearts that day. We lost our peace of mind that day. We lost everything we have ever worked toward that day.”
Nearly two years after the initial flooding took place, God’s Pit Crew was introduced to the Ellis family who were still displaced and searching for ways to move forward after losing so much. God’s Pit Crew knew that they had been led to help the Ellis family begin the next chapter of their lives by building them a brand-new home.
On June 23, Sammy and Vickie walked into their new home for the first time. While God’s Pit Crew couldn’t replace all of the cherished items that held so many special memories for the Ellis family, they prayed that this new home would stand as a new sanctuary where they could find peace and begin making many more precious memories.
“I’m so grateful for all God’s Pit Crew does for those in need. And it’s not minimal or just meeting the need. It’s meeting a desire of the heart,” shared Vickie. “I feel the many prayers that were prayed over this property and home – such peace.”