Thursday, June 30, 2011

Percival Levee Breach

Jo Ann’s article was sent to me 6-28-11. It is followed by pictures taken around the Percival dike and the exhausting work done by many to keep it intact. Sadly, this morning June 30, 2011, there has been a major breach located approximately 2 and one half miles north of Percival and measures some 200 feet in width. I write this with tears in my eyes as I fear for our church and the many homes as well as the businesses in the community..Please continue to pray for all those everywhere involved in this terrible flooding. Mindy

A Word From Jo Ann

I’ve been thinking about this blog and assumed I had nothing to add since we are not YET physically involved. Well, we did help our Percival Bottom friends move out and we have lots of machinery parked on our lots but our situation is nothing like those who are living away from their homes and businesses. They have been displaced for 3 weeks or more and I’m sure it is getting old.

Yesterday we went out to Percival to take food to the fellows who are working on the dikes. It was somewhat of an eye opener just listening to them talk “ the dike language.” It was something I have never heard before--sand boils, spongy places, varmint holes, etc. The effort they are putting forth day after day is amazing. Most have a vested interest but some are there just to help. They are beginning to feel that it is an exercise in futility but still they persevere day after day. Exhaustion is creeping in. Wet feet, sunburn, bug bites, scratches, and difficulty of getting through the seep water on paths that are getting too soft to negotiate with their pickups is something they deal with daily. They were talking about using ATVs and a cart to get there next. Talk about dedication!!! And all the time they are doing this (weeks at a time) they aren’t getting paid even for the fuel to get them back and forth. How much longer can they continue????

While we were there travelers were coming through, most expecting to be able to find fuel, some desperate for it. We had to tell them all the stations on the bottom had to have their pumps removed, their tanks emptied and filled with fresh water so they wouldn’t pop out of the ground when the flood water comes in. That is hard to get across to people who are used to stopping for gas anywhere. The closest fuel is in Sidney, 12 miles away. The Methodist minister was there at the time so he had a couple of women follow him back to Sidney to make sure they got there o.k.

We helped to move the things out of the church to Marty Shipley’s warehouse in Nebr. City (thank God for Marty’s generosity). The Methodists in Sidney called to offer their help with this project before we had even decided that we needed to do it. They brought trailers and pickups, helpers and food. Then they also offered their Church building in Sidney for us to have our services. We meet at 9:30 and they don’t meet till 11:00. How wonderful it is to be able to meet for services and be able to have our fellowship afterward. It is a needed time of bonding for our congregation, although some are scattered too far to come. One lady went to Pennsylvania to be with a son; one to Alabama to be with a daughter. Several people are in Sidney, two families are in Waubonsie State Park in campers, one is in Shenandoah and several are in Nebraska City which is now a 120 mile round trip because Hwy 2 is closed with water over the road. Percival is a ghost town and all the surrounding countryside that was home and farm ground for generations is empty.

With God’s help maybe we will grow stronger because of our adversities. Jo Ann Birkby

Remember, these photos were taken before the levee breach.




















Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pastor’s Thoughts

The flood waters of the Missouri River are rising to historic records but the community of Percival and the church that I have served for over two years now still remains dry, at least at the time of this writing (6-26-2011)

A miracle! Maybe. Pure luck, don’t think so! Pre-destined – doubtful. By chance- possible or by the grace and goodness of God, Most assuredly so!

Those sandbagging and walking the levees on a daily basis to do what they can do to save or restrict potential damage from the waters; are at a peril to their own safety. But community, neighbors and friends are uppermost in their commitment and dedication to small time life and that includes the smallest of towns like Percival, Bartlett Randolph and others.

So to them and many others we may not even know we owe a debt of gratitude and thanks.

Whether Percival and the homes of these small communities of under 60 remain dry will only be known in a few months from now. If it does however remain water free it will be because of the efforts of those who sacrificed their time, family, farms and personal safety for the benefit of friends and neighbors. And by the grace of Grace and Goodness of God who loves us beyond all measure.

Pastor Blaine

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Word From Scott

I have so many emotions, thoughts during this "wait and see what happens" time.  One night while standing on the bluff looking at the vast farm land that has been claimed by the Mighty Missouri River my eyes turned to the far south and I could see McKissick Island.  It is here that I spent the summers of my childhood and teen years, mowing the grass, fishing in the little pond, riding in the tractor with Harlan Holliman, and most of all, picking a watermelon fresh from the patch, sitting on the ground while my Uncle Walt sat on the tailgate of his truck and we would eat the entire watermelon, leaving none for the coyotes that sometimes would claim our "prize"  it was here that I found a great life, and while standing on that bluff, I remembered all those great memories and the closeness of the people that were living on the "Island" at that time, some of those people have passed on, but some still remain, they love it down there, and so do I.  Yes, the Island will never be the same, it may be years before they can raise a decent corn crop, maybe not, but the Good Lord has provided for the people of the Island for well over 150 years and he will continue to provide for them and all of us.  Pastor Pritchett quoted my favorite verse Sunday in Church.  "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall walk and not grow weary, they shall run and not faint, teach me Lord to wait."  so, I pray everyday for the Lord to teach me to wait, for it is all in his hands!

Thanks be to  God!


Monday, June 27, 2011

“Pastor’s Thoughts”

Coming to the Percival Community Church in January of 2009 has been the most rewarding and challenging experience of my 35 years of pastoral ministry.

The congregation is comprised of faithful people from four communities; Percival, Sidney, Hamburg and Nebraska City, NE. I personally live in Elkhorn, Ne. 60 miles from my front door to the front door of the church.

We have together learned to labor where the Lord has planted us, and as a small part of the body of Christ (an eye lash maybe) learned the meaning of Missions and Ministry.

Today as I write we are a scattered congregation; one in Alabama, one is Pennsylvania, a family in Shenandoah, several others in Nebraska City, and one in a camp site at Waubonsie State Park, several others living with family or remodeling their mother’s home to stay there.

However we have managed with the hospitality of the Methodist Church in Sidney to gather together for worship on Sundays, even if we are a fractured group, seeking by faith, hope and love to support and encourage each other until such time as we can worship together in the little sanctuary of the Percival Community Church.

Please uphold us in your prayers and know that I hold each of you close in my heart and mind every moment of every hour of the day.

Until we walk through the doors of Percival Community Church and hear the bell ring from the belfry God bless and keep each of you safe.

Pastor Blaine

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cookbooks For Sale

pcpics 3110

“Cooking with Grace” is filled with lots of yummy recipes! To find out more about this book, click here or click on “cookbooks for sale” on the right side bar. You can click on the above image to enlarge the photo.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Great Springs of the Earth Shall Burst Forth

“The Lord made this old valley to run water down and he’ll run water down ‘er agin if he ever takes a notion.” O. B. Hume, early settler.

In 1882 the Missouri River flooded with water bluff to bluff in the Percival area. Water must have been 10 to 12 feet deep near the river and in the town itself. In consequence of this flood, the river changed its course and in the process nearly washed away the Percival cemetery.

When the water receded many of the surviving graves where moved to Grandview Cemetery on top of the bluff some eight miles to the east. Grandview became the de facto burying place for the Percival settlers and for many years Benton Township, the township where Percival is located, levied a tax to aid in the upkeep of Grandview.

So perhaps it was appropriate that it was at the Grandview Cemetery on Memorial Day that I first heard of the new flood that was about to engulf Percival.

The general comment went, “Pat Sheldon just got back from a meeting with the Corp of Engineers and they told him there is a flood coming. He’s packing up to move and he’s telling everybody they need to move out too.”

As it happens Pat Sheldon is on the Benton Washington Levee District and I am on the Missouri Valley Drainage District so I have his number on my cell phone. I called him up and caught him at work loading up household goods. I apologized for bothering him and asked him if what I had been hearing was true.

“They tell me the river is going to hit 28 feet at Nebraska City,” he said, “and the levee is only good to 27 feet, so it doesn’t sound good.” Nebraska City is just a few miles south of Percival and across the river on the Nebraska side.

I was stunned. My house is high enough to be spared but I could well remember the chaos and disruption of the 1952 flood. Finally I muttered something about him passing the word that I had room for farm machinery at my place if anyone wanted to bring it over and we hung up.

My family has been involved with the upkeep of Grandview Cemetery since its inception, so I was busy at the Cemetery all the rest of Memorial Day and the next day my wife and I had to make a trip to Council Bluffs, but by the next day we were able to help some of our friends a little bit with packing up.

What a wrenching thing it is for someone to be forced out of their home at a moments notice and how surreal it is to be carrying furniture out of a home, across a manicured lawn with the birds singing and the flowers nodding and then to load it into a truck and haul it over roads bordered by beautiful fields of corn and beans knowing, or at least trying to convince yourself, that all this will soon be covered with 8 to 10 feet of water.

By this time machinery was starting to arrive daily and I soon saw that it was going to be necessary to mow the lots, which were covered with waist high brome, if any order was to be kept, so for one day my son and I were busy with shredder and string trimmer knocking down brome.

Next: “By the Grace of God, be ye removed to Sidney.” The moving of a church.

Jerry Birkby