After Hurricane Ida struck south Louisiana in August 2021, Jerry Niederklein of Syracuse, Nebraska, was one of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists Disaster Relief volunteers who served in that area, reported the Baptist Digest of Kansas-Nebraska.
Neiderklein and the other KNCSB volunteers gutted damaged homes and did mold remediation. He has been involved in disaster relief work for more than seven years.
Some of the homeowners lost nearly everything and were living paycheck-to-paycheck in heavily damaged homes, Niederklein said. They had no insurance coverage, and assistance from FEMA was limited.
One couple was living in a tent in their garage.
In another situation Niederklein asked the homeowner about the level of assistance received from FEMA to better understand their needs. “Unfortunately, the amount they received wouldn’t be enough to put on a new roof.”
Called to return
After coming home from south Louisiana and sitting in the comfort of his home in Nebraska, Neiderklein asked the Lord, “Who are you going to send to redo their homes?”
Neiderklein was a self-employed handyman for nearly nine years and has a garage full of tools.
As time went on, he began to feel God leading him to return to south Louisiana to help rebuild some of the homes where he had worked earlier. His employer, Frontier Cooperative, graciously allowed him extended time off. So, Niederklein set off for south Louisiana.
He partnered with First Baptist Church Golden Meadow, Louisiana, and raised funds for rebuilding the homes where he worked. He sent weekly reports sharing about how his work was progressing.
A KNCSB team joined him in mid-January.
First Baptist Church Dighton, Kansas, provided materials to install a new metal roof for the homeowners who couldn’t it.
“More than that, four men came down from the church to install the new metal roof,” Niederklein said.
Other volunteers joined the four men from First Baptist Church Dighton.
“They were able to completely reroof this house in just four days!”
It was exciting to see how God provided exactly the materials needed, Niederklein said.
“When we went shopping for the metal roofing materials, we could only find 10 corner pieces. We thought we needed 11, but bought the 10, hoping we could make them work. We only needed only 10 corner pieces!”
Team leader Elijah “Touch” Touchton led installation of new electrical wiring in two homes in the Golden Meadow area.
Another team from First Baptist Church Dighton came back the week of Feb. 7–11. The team made great progress on the rebuilding project, and two men stayed for another week.
Niederklein wrapped up his work and came back to Nebraska in early March.
One homeowner shared how he and the other volunteers impacted her and her husband as they rebuilt their severely damaged home:
“Their generosity overwhelms me. I haven’t lost my faith in God … I know God is with us and strengthens us.”