A Knoxville charity that started 10 years ago by giving free bottles of water to the homeless now finds its own home water-logged from heavy rains.
"I could not believe it. I've never seen this much water down here before," said Stephanie Mitchum, director of the Water Angels Ministries.
Mitchum started her Wednesday by sloshing through several inches of flood water in the basement of the ministry at 901 University Avenue.
"Every room I went in was flooded and I didn't know where to start," said Mitchum. "We've had a lot of volunteers show up and a lot of the homeless we help have shown up to help us sort through this mess."
The Water Angels started with Mitchum leading a group of Girl Scouts who distributed free water bottles to the homeless. IN the last decade it has grown into an around-the-clock ministry that serves hundreds of homeless every week. Water Angels depends heavily on a steady flow of donated clothes and food to help at-risk people with survival and salvation.
"We know we'll probably be short of clothes donations this Sunday. We're going through all of the wet stuff right now and throwing it out. The food pantry was flooded also," said Mitchum. "We help 200 to 300 children and adults during the week."
Mitchum does not know exactly where or how the large amount of water backed up into the basement. She said the loss of clothes and food is less of a concern than damage to the house itself. Mitchum fears the saturated drywall could pose health risks.
"I don't want mold in here, especially if the kids are in here [in the children's play room]. This
is where all of the volunteers are is down here in the basement so we need to get this cleaned up," said Mitchum.
Water Angels will depend on volunteers because it does not have flood insurance. Nonetheless, Mitchum maintained a positive outlook on the unwanted baptism as volunteers from various churches and the homeless she serves continue to offer a helping hand.
"Some of these people were really bad addicts. People are very self-centered when they are wrapped up in addiction. Just to see how God has changed them and how they just dig in and help is great. That is the beauty of this. I see all this [damage] and this can all be replaced. But what is exciting is when you see their faith in action."
The Water Angels Ministries has a drop-box to accept food and clothes donations at 901 University Avenue. Those interested in other ways to help the ministry can visit the group's website at thewaterangels.com.