The town of Van Buren, located in the southeastern part of Missouri, suffered a devastating flood when 9 inches of rain fell between April 28-30, 2017. The town is on the Current River, which crested at 37 feet, breaking all previous records. The population of the town is approximately 800 and the flood affected 100-150 homes and 30 businesses. The flood forced schools to close early for summer break.
We arrived on June 21, almost two months after the flood, to find a great deal of homes and almost all of the businesses in heaps of rubble. With the help of Pastor Dave from the Assembly of God Church, we were able to cook breakfasts in the community center parking lot. We were fortunate to have time to get to know many of the people we encountered and they shared stories about their experiences living through the flood. One thing I learned from my experience in Van Buren is the effect natural disasters have on communities. Immediately after the flood many groups came to support the people of Van Buren. Two months later, however, many of the groups have left and the town is much quieter. The residents fear that Van Buren may never be back to where it was economically. Despite the terrible losses they have suffered, their spirits remain hopeful and their faith remains strong. Thank you to the people of Van Buren for sharing their mornings with us!