Cruso Church is a lighthouse for community service | news

CRUSO – If weather analogies were applied to a disaster, Rev. Peter Constantian would be in the eye of the hurricane.

As pastor of the United Methodist Church of Long and Cruso, Constantian was one of the first at the scene of the crisis and has been there for the long term. Now he is at the center of the next, much longer phase, the long-term recovery process.

The first 90 days after a disaster is considered limp home mode, he explained, but the next 900 days will bring normalcy back to an area.

Ironically, the August 17th flood that devastated Cruso and parts of the Clyde, Canton and Bethel areas in Haywood, to name a few, came the day Constantian and his wife Emily learned their long battle against the cancer had paid off and she was in full remission.

“We had exactly three hours to celebrate,” he said. “It didn’t really arrive.”

For the past three months, Constantian has spent 60 hours a week or more addressing the needs of the community in a variety of ways.

Cruso United Methodist Church offers a free meal five days a week (excluding Thursdays and Sundays), a full pantry that flood victims can collect for free, and pastoral care for those recovering from the life-changing event. The church is open for meals and meals from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The schedule continues through December 22nd.

“We still serve 40 meals a day without even delivering,” he said.

Under the direction of retired Presbyterian pastor Jeanne Hoechst, volunteers appear to open and lock church doors, prepare meals, and work in the pantry.

“For certain things we could use more volunteers to deliver food. Many people are still without means of transport, ”he said.

An online registration form is available on the Church website.

Ground zero

Cruso was at the headwaters of the floods that dragged down the Pigeon River, leaving a wide swath of destruction on their way. Many of the houses that were not completely washed away were left irreparably damaged. For the homes that can be repaired, the race is on to create a clean, safe, and warm place before winter comes.

The Constantians helped make this possible for the home of a relative of one of their parishioners, but most of the time he uses his time best to provide coordination services.

“Most of the time, I’ve found that I’m the most effective as a dispatcher,” he said. “I’ve made a lot of connections so I can help people ask the questions, where can they get involved to help. I also tried to put together a team of case managers to follow up on real needs. “

Constantian is part of the Canton Missional Network, a group of cantonal churches that work together across the region to offer everything from food and clothing gifts to a shared holiday Bible school, Easter ecumenical events, and other activities that benefit the wider community as a whole . He said the churches in the network were instrumental in responding to the flood.

“One thing that we were very effective at in the beginning with the help of volunteers was public relations,” said Constantian. “We knocked a lot on the door. Even if you were from the church and lived there all your life, there was no way of knowing what was and was not being flooded. We used a lot of advertisers. “

Another survey is slated for November 20th, when volunteers will come back to assess what needs are still out there.

“During our first customer survey, a lot of people were absent and people were in shock,” he said. “They didn’t really know what they needed except that they never wanted to see a river again. We want to look back and go for a walk with this person. “


The question of whether survivors of the flood are still being displaced is difficult to answer, Constantian said.

Many people live with family or friends or just surf the web on the couch. It’s not necessarily homeless, but it certainly isn’t an ideal situation.

“I would say take whatever number is left in the shelter and double or triple it,” he said. “From the perspective of the Canton Missional Network, our long-standing mission is to ensure that children in Haywood County are properly housed and fed. From this study we know that there were many homeless children before the flood. Now there is simply more. “

An important part of disaster relief is done through Baptist and Methodist work, in which community volunteers flood flooded homes and make them habitable.

“When a house can’t be refurbished, we have access to some trailers, some from the state and some through Methodist Disaster Relief,” he said.

The most urgent need at the moment, according to Constantian, is to catch up with people in order to identify their immediate needs and work on a solution.

There is also a need for portable heating devices, whether electric, kerosene or propane.

Some home locations still only have a temporary utility pole that cannot handle a large electrical load, he explained.

With the holidays approaching, there will be yet another need for which the Church of Constantian is preparing.

“We’re trying to think about how we can provide spiritual and emotional care, especially for those whose vacation will be a little different,” he said. “It’s hard to let go of things, but in the absence of a new goal, we continue to long for things to be the way they were.”

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