Local Churches Bring Aid to Hurricane Florence Victims
On September 14, 2018, Hurricane Florence made landfall in the Carolinas, dumping an estimated eight to ten trillion gallons of rain on the states. The devastation was staggering in many areas, with some towns receiving up to 35 inches of rain. North Carolina was hit hardest, though South Carolina saw more than 1500 homes damaged. At least 50 people died as a result of Florence and damages estimates run as high as $22 billion.
Knowing the damage and losses were predicted to be extreme, the Church of the Nazarene mobilized NCM Disaster Response Teams before the storm even hit. After Florence blew through, calls for more volunteers went out and the prepared teams began traveling to the hardest hit areas, bringing generators, bleach, Crisis Care Kits, food, and more. The teams worked on homes of Nazarene families, and homes of strangers they encountered while assessing damages.
The recovery continues, and will take time. Volunteers are still needed to travel to North Carolina to assist with cleanup. If you’d like to spend a few days serving in NC, please click HERE.
Below are three first-hand accounts of different cleanup efforts initiated by groups of Nazarene volunteers. The writers are three pastors and leaders from North Carolina. We’re grateful for their leadership and support of response efforts during such a crippling natural disaster.
Rev. Chris Shallenberger
Lead Pastor, Greensboro New Horizon Church of the Nazarene, Greensboro, NC
On September 24, 2018, our church partnered with other churches around the district in a combined joint-effort to send aid and supplies to the areas and people affected by Hurricane Florence. Our church bus was loaded up with hundreds of pounds of food and dozens of different cleaning supplies.
We left Greensboro with Jacksonville, NC as our destination. On the bus was a small but mighty group of servants ranging from children to senior adults.
After traveling several hours, through detours, closed roads, and stopping to assist at a car accident scene; we finally made it to the area we were assigned to work. We parked the bus and simply stood in awe of the destruction and damage caused by wind and water.
Our main task of the day was to help clean out houses and organize the piles into specific items for FEMA to pick up (furniture, building material, trash, etc.).
After working several hours getting things cleaned up and organized for pick up, we still needed a place to donate the food and cleaning supplies we didn't already give away. Through a contact given to us by our District Superintendent, Dr. Greg Mason, we connected with the local Salvation Army. Dropping off the food and cleaning supplies to an organization that was already so deeply involved in the community gave us a peace of mind. It was good knowing that the food and supplies we collected locally 3 hours away from the coast would reach a much larger group of people in need.
I praise God for this chance to partner with our district and zone churches to be the hand and feet of Jesus to those in need. We plan to go back towards late October, however, this time God has challenged us to find and partner with a local crisis pregnancy center and donate needed items such as diaper, formula, wipes, diaper bags, feminine products, etc.
With God's help again, we will be another blessing!
Rev. Bill R Crane
District Secretary, North Carolina District Church of the Nazarene
Lead Pastor, Faith Church of the Nazarene, Jacksonville, NC
Hurricane Florence, with its 30+ inches of rain in 3 days, has been the worst storm that we have experienced in our 27 years of living on the Carolina coast. Our county issued a mandatory evacuation order for the first time since we moved here. The Crawfords, one of the families in our church who evacuated, received word shortly after the storm that their home had been flooded by the rising waters. When they were able to return home, they discovered their home had had about 18 inches of water or more in it for at least a day.
Our North Carolina District Superintendent, Dr. Greg Mason, joined our church members who gathered to begin cleaning out the Crawfords’ home. It was determined that we would need to immediately remove all the contents, flooring, and drywall and insulation up to four feet high in the house. This type of remediation work is common in the homes that sustained standing water.
Dr. Mason called for volunteers from NC Nazarenes to come on the following Monday, and a group of at least 22 people showed up to help (representing the Archdale, Hickory, Greensboro New Horizon, Asheboro, Winston Salem New Beginnings, Fayetteville, Greensboro SE, Wilmington Hispanic and Jacksonville Faith churches)! This team helped clean or make repairs to five buildings, including the church and parsonage of the Jacksonville Haws Run Church of the Nazarene.
The following day, Tuesday, September 25th, Pastor Steve Creech from the Plymouth Church of the Nazarene with five volunteers and Jim Heald from our Cary Penny Road Church came to complete the drywall and flooring tear-out at the Crawford's home. The Lord also enabled us to make contact briefly with the neighbor family whose house had been flooded to a depth of at least 4 feet.
This family was feeling very overwhelmed. They had had to plan for their four children to be cared for so the husband and wife could begin pulling all of their soaked belongings out onto the front yard. We offered to help them, but they were still waiting for an insurance adjuster to come and see the devastation. On Tuesday morning we made contact again and received permission to assist with their cleanup. After helping this family, the wife looked up our church on Facebook and posted the following:
My husband and I were the owners of one of the two homes worked on today. To say thank you to these men just doesn’t seem enough; it’s not enough. We are complete strangers but this group came up to us, asked how they could help and dove right in. We would never have been able to get everything done today in such a short amount of time if it wasn’t for their help. We were also offered lunch and drinks from the rest of the group as well, invited right up like we were family. I will forever be grateful for their compassionate words and helping hands during one of the worst times of my and my family’s life. Thank you again.”
Those who have lost their homes and belongings face a huge emotional challenge. For many it is overwhelming. However, we see that those with faith in Christ find strength in Him and help in the resources of Scripture, the help of the Holy Spirit, and the partnership of fellow Christians who step in to assist. The Crawford family testify that the Lord has provided them a sense of peace despite the loss of most of their belongings. The support of their local church and the partnership of help from our district has been a great encouragement to them.
Pastor Porter Graves, III
Lead Pastor, Bridgeway Church, Beaufort, NC
It has been nearly three weeks since Hurricane Florence made landfall. Yet, the effects are still observed and witnessed each day as you drive along the Crystal Coast of North Carolina. Here, in Carteret County, homes and businesses have been flooded out, roofs have been peeled off, and interior spaces have been destroyed. Kids have been out of school for about the same amount of time as schools were turned into emergency shelters. But most importantly, the lingering reality of people's lives being altered and changed by the storm is what sticks. Some have been displaced and other families have been forced to leave their residences because of unlivable situations.
In these two weeks that have followed, as power and utility crews worked tirelessly to reconnect us, the heart of God's people has been seen at every turn. We have hosted two project teams from the Virginia District Church of the Nazarene, and have plans to host and work with three others who are planning trips now. From clearing debris fields to cutting trees in people's backyards, from removing drywall to pumping out lower levels full of flood water, these teams have brought the hope and love of Christ to all of us who were in the very center of Hurricane Florence (pre and post).
To date, we have delivered and distributed over 1,200 Crisis Care Kits, over 2,200 hot meals, and supplies such as: non-perishables, baby items, bottled water, cleaning supplies, and clothes to several hundred families. We have hosted and housed 27 people in our facilities as they have journeyed, willingly, to help us in ways that have truly demonstrated the love of Christ. In a very challenging and exhaustive season which will continue for months, we are strengthened by the outpouring of love, presence, and teamwork. Our District Superintendent, Dr. Greg Mason, the Disaster Response Teams on both the North Carolina and Virginia Districts, along with the many churches in the area, have all been a beacon of hope and light. We are grateful for all that has been done in donations and support, and with God's grace, we will be better than before.
Please continue to pray for us in this time.
If you’d like to donate to hurricane relief, visit ncm.org/florence.