Hurricane Michael Devastates Florida Panhandle
Hurricane Michael hit the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday, October 10, making landfall as the first Category 4 storm in the area in recorded history. With winds of up to 155 miles per hour (250 kilometers per hour), the hurricane was the third most powerful hurricane to ever strike the U.S. mainland. The damage was severe: more than 900,000 homes and businesses in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas were without power, and many homes were ripped apart or washed away. So far, 19 deaths have been recorded.
The storm did not allow for much advance notice, moving fast and intensifying quickly. Although evacuation orders went out, many did not have time to prepare or didn’t realize how much worse the storm would get. The towns of Panama City and Mexico Beach were especially devastated. The fierce storm lost force quickly, and has now entered the Atlantic after moving northeast as a tropical storm.
The Georgia District Nazarene Disaster Response team, led by Pastor Kevin Thomas (recently returned from serving in North Carolina), is preparing a response to the town of Donalsonville, in the southwestern corner of the state. Pastor Scott Messer reported wind damage to the Donalsonville church, including the loss of the steeple which crashed into the vestibule of the church. The church was sheltering evacuees at the time, and the community is thankful for no injuries to those in the building. This part of the state expects to be without power for 3-4 weeks.
Many roads in Florida remain impassible, and communication is still challenging. So far, the Florida District Church of the Nazarene reports damage to the church and parsonage of First Church of the Nazarene in Port St. Joe, and widespread loss of electricity across the most affected counties. Without permission to re-enter neighborhoods in the Florida counties of Bay, Gulf, and Franklin, most of the damage to homes and churches there is still unknown.
Churches are collecting supplies to donate to the area, and Nazarene Compassionate Ministries is partnering with World Hope to deliver supplies to the affected areas via airplanes. Pastor Francisco Ayala at the Nuevo Comienzo Church of the Nazarene in Mulberry, Florida, received 1,000 Crisis Care Kits from Fawn Grove Compassionate Ministry Center for the initial response, and another several hundred kits will arrive from elsewhere in Florida.
“Storm results are much worse than anticipated,” says Rev. Larry Dennis, Florida District Superintendent. “We are gratefully overwhelmed by the prayers and offers to assist from our fellow Nazarenes across the country and around the world.”
How You Can Help
Pray for those who have lost loved ones. Please pray for those facing loss of homes and livelihoods, and for those already beginning the long process of repair. Pray for the swift delivery of the supplies and care they need, and pray for the months of recovery ahead. Pray for those who are most vulnerable during and after the storm, especially senior adults, individuals with disabilities, and people living in poverty. Pray for church leaders and churches responding to the needs around them. To send a prayer or note of encouragement, go to ncm.org/pray.
Churches and individuals around the world can provide support through the Emergency Relief: 2018 Storm Response fund. Donations will be used for immediate needs, such as water and food, as well as long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts.
To send donations by mail:
In the U.S., make checks payable to "General Treasurer" and send them to:
Global Treasury Services
Church of the Nazarene
P.O. Box 843116
Kansas City, MO 64184-3116
Be sure to put 132741 in the Memo area.
In Canada, make checks payable to "Church of the Nazarene Canada" and send them to:
Church of the Nazarene Canada
3657 Ponytrail Drive, Mississauga, ON | L4X 1W5
Be sure to put 132741 in the Memo area.
For any other country, give through your local church or district, designating your gift to Emergency Relief: 2018 Storm Response.