Comfort in Disaster


By Tamica Smith Jeuitt, Sr. Communications Specialist, Mississippi Conference    

Photo right and below right: Melanie Henry Schnadelbach shared these photos on her facebook page. They were taken by her son who wants people to  pray for his parents and their neighbors.
These days Melanie Henry Schnadelbach is finding comfort in what she calls her first love to help her  cope with a crisis -- music.   She is the part-time director of music at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Clarksdale, Mississippi.  Schnadelbach and her husband have been displaced from their home of 30 years because of flooding caused by heavy rain in early March.

"I have just been humming several songs, a children's song, 'The Lord Told Noah to Build Him an Arky, Arky,' that one played on me for a long time in the beginning," she said.  "The Lord has got all of this in his hands and if you truly believe, he's going to lead you through."

More than 20 inches of rising water forced the couple to evacuate to a hotel, leaving the home where they raised their two sons who are now adults.

"When you see everything you own, pretty much gone, it was just difficult. The initial reaction is indescribable."
Despite their misfortune, Schnadelbach said she finds hope in bright spots -- like the caring people in the community and their church family, who have stepped up to help them. 

"One of the members brought my son out twice in a boat to get stuff before we could even really access the house.  The church offered food; they packed up all my dishes and are allowing me to store them."

Schnadelbach said 10 days passed before she went back in the home and once again, United Methodist disaster response workers were there.

"They came by with the flood buckets and have walked through the home to see what they can do. At this point everything has been removed from the house.  We have to wait for the house to dry out," she said.

Wayne Winter serves as the disaster response coordinator for First United Methodist Church Clarksdale and St. Paul's. He was part of the team who assisted the Schnadelbachs.  He is also the lay leader at St. Paul's UMC and was not affected by the flood.  Having lived in the Clarksdale area since 1955, Winter cannot recall flooding of this sort to his community.   He estimates Methodists have delivered roughly 400 flood buckets to victims of this crisis.

"We are in trouble. We don't like it. We're hurting but we are going to rise," he said.

Although Schnadelbach feels the same way, she explained that her faith has always been in the Lord so it easy for her to move forward.  On Easter Sunday, even with her concerns, she directed the church choir-finding comfort in her music.