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Restoring Damages after Niger River Floods
6 February 2013

The recovery and restoration of the Sahel Academy campus has been a slow and ongoing process. That restoration process which continues today was facilitated by team after team who came, responding to our need and offering their skills and willingness to work hard. If you have prayed, if you have given, if you have put your hand to the hammer, the rag, the wheelbarrow, the pressure washer, the dolly, the paintbrush or any other tool on our behalf, we say, "Thank you!" Through you, the Lord helped us to realize the goal of beginning the new school year back on our river campus.

Please read our message: THANK YOU from Sahel Academy


UPDATE February 6, 2013:

Learn more about the volunteer teams who are arriving from around the world to help with restoration and rehabilitation of the flooded campuses of Sahel Academy and CBN in Niamey:

Niamey Flood Clean-up Blog


UPDATE December 12, 2012:

The flood of the Niger River into the city of Niamey in August 2012 has had continuing complications for Sahel Academy and for CBN (Centre Biblique de Niamey). CBN is home to many missionaries and local students, as well as the ESPriT Bible School, the Christian education department of SIM, and a local church. While neither campus is currently flooded, the buildings and facilities remain in great disrepair.

Sahel Academy and the Bible school are meeting in temporary rented locations this school year, with hopes to return to their restored campuses in August and October 2013, respectively.

flood damage in guest house
Moldy and muddy cupboards, walls and floors
SIM Niger is asking God for individuals and teams to help accomplish a two-phase cleanup. Would you, or someone you know, be interested to serve, or bring a team, for 7 to 10 days? The days may be hot but the work will be rewarding as we see the school, dorms and homes being renewed and prepared for classes to restart!

We are praying for at least two teams to come each month during March, April and May 2013. The first phase of cleanup and rehabilitation will include: washing, scrubbing, cleaning, scraping, sanding, varnishing, painting, landscaping and sorting.

We are looking for more teams in June, July and August for the second phase. It may include some of the first phase work as well as moving school materials from the temporary locations back to their original campuses in time to open for the next academic year.

Teams will be housed at the Sahel Academy and CBN campuses in order to keep fundraising costs down.

For more information please contact Nancy DeValve at niger.personnel@sim.org.

Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you!

PRAISE GOD WITH US

  • for engineers with Engineering Ministries International (EMI) who are working on plans to build a berm around the inside perimeter of each property—an interior dike. Current thinking targets a system that would protect from flood water three feet (just under one meter) higher than the 2012 flood levels. The berms would hold water out as well as hold the walls firmly in place.
  • for God's provision of two couples to come to Niger in January and March to oversee the restoration and protection of the two SIM compounds, Sahel Academy and CBN.


UPDATE September 18:

Your donations to SIM project 88600, Disaster Relief Fund, will help SIM Niger respond to urgent needs in their community brought on by this crisis. Thank you for your donation!

PRAISE GOD WITH US

  • That grain distribution has begun! Families who lost their homes, and who are still living in schools on the south side of the river, have begun to receive grain.
  • For God-honoring partnerships with churches in the work of grain distribution.
  • That the 53 displaced missionaries and children all have new homes throughout Niamey.
  • That the boarding students have a new dorm and that they can all stay together!
  • That Sahel Academy began on Monday, September 17th! This was a date set by faith, and it was met.
  • That ESPriT seminary has signed rental contract on a building to hold classes this year. By faith, the seminary plans to begin on October 1! (see photo above)
  • That sickness amidst very unsanitary conditions has not been any worse.
  • For leadership of the mission, church and schools who have done a remarkable job during a very difficult time. We thank God for them!
  • For the overwhelming response of friends around the world who have prayed on our behalf and are giving to help restore our lives and ministries. We thank you with full hearts.

PRAY WITH US

  • For those who are displaced and temporarily living in the schools as they will be forced to find new housing arrangements as school begins soon.
  • Health for those who are homeless due to their living conditions (and the cholera outbreak that could spread here).
  • Wisdom for the leadership and engineers who are working on plans for the restoration and protection of the two SIM properties.
  • For the Sahel staff who are continually facing new challenges.

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
Isaiah 43:19


SIM Niger grain distribution
Grain distribution begins in Niamey, Niger
UPDATE September 13:

We are so thankful to report that God has provided new housing locations for all SIM and Sahel staff who were in need. Contracts have also been signed on the secondary school (high school) building and dorm housing for Sahel. Please pray for those preparing and setting up the houses as well as for those still in transition between homes.

SIM has also partnered with a few churches to work with the refugees living in local schools. This week they have been able to begin the grain distribution! Please pray for good coordination with the grain trucks and for protection and energy for those from the local churches who are handing out the food. May they be a sweet testimony of the love of Christ.


UPDATE September 6:

We are very thankful to be able to share some great progress with all of you concerning the building and housing search for our displaced missionary families and ministries!

SIM Niger Sahel Academy elementary
New elementary school building for Sahel Academy!
To begin we are so glad to announce that ESPriT Seminary has signed contract for their dorm and will be signing the contract for the school tomorrow. They will hold courses at the old FEU building in Harobanda and will rent a house in the same neighborhood for their dorm. ESPriT hopes to start classes in the new location on October 1.

At Sahel Academy, the contract has been signed for the primary school building in Koura Kano! The primary teachers were able to see the new location today and explore its possibilities. (see photo)

Please continue to pray for the process of signing a contract for the secondary school building. We are also thankful to announce that we are in need of only one more house for our mission/Sahel staff! Please pray for the next steps in the housing process as all contracts are being signed and the houses are being cleaned and repaired. Pray for the families that will be moving into them.


SIM Niger Steve Schmidt Pastor Solomon
SIM Niger Director Steve Schmidt with Pastor Solomon
UPDATE September 3:

Today was spent at the CBN (SIM’s Bible Center) compound. Many hands helped to pack up belongings and rescue the furniture from the flooded buildings. The water level is still down which greatly aided in the efforts today. Once the truck was packed up it was taken across town where a large group were ready and waiting to begin bleaching and cleaning the furniture before it was packed into a container to be stored until a new location is found. Pastor Solomon the head pastor of the EEI church that meets at the CBN compound joined Steve today as they worked to remove more of the church belongings.

Many others helped to begin moving different people’s belongings to their new homes. There is much to do but it has been incredible how many people are sacrificing their time to work so hard! We are so blessed in SIM Niger to have such incredible leaders who are the first ones to jump into the work to accomplish what needs to be done everyday. So thankful for their example! To God be the glory!



UPDATE August 31: SIM's Crisis Management Team in Niamey is coordinating with other humanitarian workers to reach the most needy survivors in the aftermath of devastating floods earlier this week.

4000 families have been counted in three neighborhoods across the river. Three churches are working together to systematically asses their needs. Many are sleeping in schools, and many more are living outside in empty lots, often without protection from the mosquitoes. Nets are greatly needed.

SIM Niger plans to offer direct assistance to 500 family units. Hundreds and even thousands more will be impacted by rescuing and restoring the Bible Center campus and Sahel Academy.

Sahel Academy is key to keeping missionary families serving in West Africa. The campus is under water and not usable this school year. The work of salvaging books, equipment, furniture and personal belongings and transporting them by canoe to a dry place is nearly completed! Much has been saved, but many bookshelves are damaged. Preserving the buildings from further damage while the floors are submerged is a next priority. SIM continues to search for homes for more than 50 displaced missionaries including children.

PRAISE:

  • Thank the Lord for the outpouring of prayer, encouragement and resources that is coming together both inside Niger and around the world.
  • Praise God for an amazing spirit of community and self-sacrifice as many people have come together to aid displaced people and salvage resources from flooded properties.
  • Thank the Lord that no looting has occurred to date. May the properties remain secure over the next months while they are unoccupied.
  • Thank God that the water level in the Sahel buildings has gone down slightly and the canoes are scraping bottom as they move through the building with their loads. The smell is better too!

PRAY:

Niger flood snake
Snakes & sewage make the flood waters hazardous
  • Pray for church partners who are putting together their census in their neighborhoods and will be making a needs estimate. May they work quickly.
  • Pray that SIM’s distribution of relief goods can begin very soon and we can bring hope to people in dire conditions.
  • Pray that despite the challenges, the most needy will be identified and receive help.
  • Pray that the character and love of Jesus will be seen through his Church in Niger.
  • Please pray for a new location to be found for the school for the 2012-13 year. By faith, Sahel Academy is planning to re-open at some location on September 17.
  • The river carries disease and parasites at all times, but especially now with septic systems emptying into the flood waters. Snakes have been found both outside and in buildings. Pray for safety and health for people wading through the muck daily.
  • Pray for wisdom for the leaders of Niger, of local churches, of our partners, and of SIM.



UPDATE August 30: From the Cabinet of the Prime Minister of Niger:

For the city of Niamey:

Household's affected : 12,365
Flood victims : 82,948
Destroyed homes : 9,102
Flooded homes : 5,369

Needs :
Rice, milk, sugar, mats, tents, and blankets


UPDATE August 29:The CBN compound in Niamey, Niger, is home to ESPriT (the Bible school), a church, Child Evangelism Fellowship, Emmaus Bible Correspondence School, and the Navigators. The church, seminary and all the ministries will need to find new locations to work from. Homes on the campus are also flooded. The river may slightly recede, but will crest as usual in January. It is expected that the buildings will have standing water until March or April 2013. Please pray for the immediate, urgent need for housing and alternate locations for offices, church and classes. Thank you for standing with us.


UPDATE August 27:The SIM Crisis Management Team in Niger has identified five priorities as follows:

  1. Caring for the emotional and physical health of the missionary team directly affected by the flood.
  2. Securing housing for 53 personnel, including children, who are displaced because of the flooding. We are working to identify appropriate, affordable housing in favorable locations for respective ministries.
  3. Assuring security: The flooding presents unique challenges to security. To date there is no reported incidences of looting.
  4. Recovering and restoring facilities: We are mounting an effort to recover assets and resources from the flooded properties. In the future, we will be also work to restore these properties.
  5. Offering Relief: Our employees and neighbors have suffered even more devastating losses than we have. We would like to offer relief and assistance to these families, in partnership with churches and community groups, to those who need it most.

Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund, will help SIM Niger to quickly respond to critical needs over the next days and weeks.


UPDATE August 23: Flood map courtesy of the Niger River Basin Authority:

Niger River Flooding map.jpg
Niamey city and Niger River map. Dark blue is the river within the dikes. Light blue indicates flooded areas.

How can you pray?

  • Pray for Christians to be filled with the Spirit, acting as the hands and voice of Christ to Muslim neighbors.
  • Pray for tens of thousands grieving the loss of loved ones and properties. Up to 75,000 people have been displaced, their crops, livestock and possessions completely destroyed. A food crisis in the wake of last year’s drought was already underway. This year’s crops are now also destroyed.
  • Pray against water-borne diseases and other sanitation risks that come in the wake of flooding. Even more than food, clothing or shelter, refugees need potable water. Children are especially vulnerable when drinking or playing in flooded areas.
  • Pray for more than 50 displaced SIM missionariesa and their children, as well as numerous Nigerien staff, Bible school students, colleagues and friends. Pray for long term housing options.
  • The SIM properties are now a part of the Niger River. Predictions indicate the river will not return to its boundaries until March or April of 2013. Pray for the administration of both Sahel and the Bible school as they tackle big decisions.
  • Pray for our many church and mission partners in Niamey—for unity, perseverance and for the mind of Christ.

Sahel Academy flood.jpg
Sahel Academy director surveying campus by canoe

Sahel Academy flood
Sahel Academy campus

Sahel Academy flood Niamey Niger
Sahel Academy, Niamey, Niger
UPDATE August 22 morning: Despite the valiant efforts of the past days, flood waters took over Sahel Academy late Tuesday evening. A section of the wall has broken. Pumping has stopped as water is now pouring in. The number of leaks in the walls is increasing. Water is waist deep and the school director surveyed the grounds this morning in a canoe. We continue to ask prayer for the rains to stop and waters to subside, and for the many decisions that lie ahead.

UPDATE August 21 evening: Today started with an early morning thunderstorm which yielded 1.6" (41mm) of rain. The river continued to rise and flow over the dikes.

SIM owns two pieces of property along the riverfront, the seminary property (Esprit) and Sahel Academy. Water flowed into both properties all day long despite efforts to pump it back out again. By early morning, workers realized they were fighting a losing battle on the seminary property. Everyone had already been evacuated. Later in the day a section of the wall holding back the river water collapsed under the pressure. Water flowed in freely; the grounds of the entire property are now under water.

At Sahel Academy, volunteers spent the day making sandbags and placing them in front of doors of the campus buildings. The hope is that when the water reaches the buildings, the sandbags will slow the flow and that any water the comes in can be pumped out. This is our last line of defense. Pumping continues at the wall but there are now many leaks in the wall.

PRAISE:

  • for an amazing spirit of community and self-sacrifice as many people have come together to work on protecting the SIM property.
  • for God's protection over the many people who are helping in the relief effort.
  • for an outpouring of prayer from around the world for the flooding situation in Niamey.

PRAY:

  • that the flood waters will recede quickly.
  • that the buildings can be protected.
  • for the next round of decisions that will have to be made about the eventual resumption of school at Sahel Academy.
  • for the many suffering people tonight in Niamey who don't have a dry place to lay their heads.
  • for Nigeriens who have lost their homes and even loved ones as a result of this flood.

Sahel Academy sand bags
Water flowing into Sahel Academy
UPDATE August 21 morning: Dear prayer warriors, We have just received word from Steve Schmidt, our director in Niger, that both Sahel Academy and the CBN campus are flooding at this very moment. Will you pray for the Lord’s intervention? Please pray that the break in the dam around the edge of the Niger River will be closed soon. Pray also for a quick control of the water that is flowing into both Sahel and CBN compound. Pray for wisdom and strength for the team that is working to control the situation.

UPDATE August 20: The water has not yet flooded the Sahel Academy campus, but is threatening all around. The rice fields and factory nearby are flooded. Water is heading down the road towards the school. Rain north of Niamey has caused a surge which is anticipated to arrive on Tuesday.

August 19: Please pray for the people of Niamey, the capital of Niger in West Africa. Although typically dry with little rainfall, Niamey and areas upstream have received torrential seasonal rains. The Niger River has crested, causing several dikes to break.

SIM owns two large properties along the river, CBN (a Bible School and dorms, homes for Nigerien and expatriate staff) and Sahel Academy, where there are many school buildings, staff homes and a dorm for boarding students. Both properties are in danger of flooding.

Many volunteers worked hard all weekend (Aug 18-19) to strengthen the dikes with sandbags. Saturday night another hard rain fell. Dikes upriver and downriver from the school have broken. Many worked at Sahel on Sunday to prepare the buildings for flooding. Furniture, equipment and books were raised about three feet off the floors. The dorm students were evacuated to homes around the city. School is cancelled for the week of August 20-24.

Pray

  • for the flood to cease and property to be protected.
  • for the many Nigeriens who have gardens and homes along the banks of the Niger. They are experiencing great losses with this flooding.
  • for protection for CBN Bible School and Sahel Academy, and for wisdom in the days that follow.

Most houses are made of mud, so lots of rain means that the mud begins to melt. Roofs are made with beams of wood, crossed by smaller sticks, then covered with mud. When the roofs become saturated with water, they tend to collapse, especially if the beams and sticks have also been eaten by termites. Sadly, houses collapse every rainy season, but especially in years such as this one.

Sahel Academy sand bags
Nigeriens evacuating their neighborhood

Your donations to SIM project 88600, Disaster Relief Fund, will help SIM Niger as they continue to respond to the needs in their community brought on by this crisis. Thank you for your donation!


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