Shortly after Hurricane Florence made landfall in mid-September, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers arrived in the Carolinas to help homeowners start the recovery process.
In Lumberton, a small North Carolina town made a virtual island by flood waters, the National Guard used high-water vehicles to deliver supplies and hot meals prepared by Disaster Relief volunteers.
Illinois teams were deployed to Lumberton Sept. 19 to serve initially as assessors and chaplains, and to begin flood recovery efforts. Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief (IBDR) also deployed a mass feeding team to Jacksonville, N.C., to work in a Kentucky Baptist mobile kitchen. They also partnered with Missouri Baptists in Wallace, N.C., where Illinois volunteers staffed a mobile shower/laundry unit. The unit, from Macoupin Association in Carlinville, provided nearly 1,500 showers and almost 1,000 loads of laundry in the first two weeks of the response.
Five additional teams from Illinois were scheduled to deploy Oct. 7-8, said IBDR administrative director Dwayne Doyle, followed by additional teams who are scheduled in late October and into November. Teams of 2-3 people will be needed throughout the callout to staff the Macoupin Association shower/laundry unit.
“Both the North and South Carolina state directors have shared that this will be an extended callout,” Doyle said. “Maybe until Christmas.” As of Oct. 1, flood waters in South Carolina had only receded to the record flood levels there two years ago during Hurricane Matthew, Doyle added.
Don Ile recently returned from Lumberton, where he served on a 13-person flood recovery team. “The damage is so in-depth it just takes a while to get the job completed,” said Ile, a volunteer from First Baptist Church in Albion. One particular home took two-and-a-half days to clean up because the damage was so extensive. The homeowners were an elderly Christian couple without flood insurance.
“They were so very appreciative of our efforts,” Ile said, “and they were with us the entire time.”
Bev Laechelt, a volunteer from Crosspointe in Oswego, posted on Facebook about homeowners Robert and Cynthia, who had just finished replacing what they lost two years ago in Hurricane Matthew when Florence hit. “Yet, they were not angry,” Laechelt wrote. “They have hope in their faith and are thankful for God’s grace. What a testimony and blessing to us.”
In the first two weeks of the recovery effort, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers served more than one million meals and helped more than 1,000 homeowners by mudding out homes, cleaning up yards, and providing temporary roofing. They also reported 80 professions of faith.
As the recovery effort continues on the East Coast, Doyle said trained Disaster Relief volunteers are still needed to serve. A list of teams and the dates they’re planning to travel is available at IBSA.org/dr.
“If you aren’t a trained volunteer but would like to help, you can make a donation,” Doyle said. “It costs around $500 to send a team to the disaster area, and around $1,000 to send a team with a trailer. Your gifts help get our volunteers to where the need is the greatest.”
-With reporting from Baptist Press