This photo provided by NASA shows Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station on Sept. 10, 2018, as it threatens the U.S. East Coast. Forecasters said Florence could become an extremely dangerous major hurricane and remain that way for days. (NASA via AP)

Faith-based disaster-relief teams on standby as Florence nears

DURHAM, N.C. (RNS) — On top of all the state and federal disaster relief groups readying for Hurricane Florence as it barrels toward North and South Carolina are a group of expert helpers: the faith teams.

The biggest of these, North Carolina Baptists on Mission and the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, have made a name for themselves during previous hurricanes and other natural disasters, feeding people, clearing debris, gutting uninhabitable homes and rebuilding them from stud to kitchen cabinet.

On Wednesday (Sept. 12), they were back at it — not yet delivering help, but strategizing over how best to deploy their volunteer armies and equipment.

Florence is likely to produce catastrophic flooding in the eastern Carolinas when it makes landfall Friday. Damaging winds and near-certain flooding from the massive rainfall will worsen the misery.

Preston Guiher carries a sheet of plywood as he prepares to board up a Wells Fargo bank in preparation for Hurricane Florence in downtown Charleston, S.C., on Sept. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)


 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

“God’s opened a lot of doors and given us a lot of opportunity,” said Richard Brunson, executive director of North Carolina Baptists on Mission, a collective of emergency response teams in the state. “We’re thankful for that. We want to glorify God if we have opportunities to, and we’re looking for the best way to do that right now.”

Baptists on Mission partners with the state, the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army to feed thousands. On Wednesday leaders pored over the latest storm tracking information to figure out where best to station its three mobile kitchen units. At full capacity, two of those units can provide 30,000 hot meals a day each; the third can provide 20,000 meals.

Some 15,000 North Carolina Baptists have been trained in disaster relief work and many more untrained Baptists volunteer as well.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers prepare meals for those affected by wildfires in southern Colorado in July 2018. Residents and first responders were served. Photo by Dennis Belz via Baptist Press

At a disaster call center for the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, people were phoning in to offer volunteer labor and supplies on Wednesday. After the storm makes landfall, many more calls will be coming in for emergency help.

The United Methodists typically come in after the first responders give them the OK. They’ll send in teams to hang tarps, remove debris, clear out soggy carpets and wet furniture and rip out subfloors as well as heating and air conditioning ducts.

Over the past three years, the conference, which covers the eastern half of the state, trained 767 people on how to respond to disasters.

But the training stresses listening first and foremost, said Ann Huffman, who directs the conference's disaster call center.

“We’re taught to listen when survivors want to talk,” Huffman said. “We teach that that’s more important than the physical work.”

Huffman is also president of North Carolina’s chapter of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, or VOAD, which comprises some 60 organizations, the majority of them faith-based, including Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army, the state’s Jewish federations, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Samaritan’s Purse and many others.

Volunteers load a truck at the offices of the United Methodist Committee on Relief in Manila with relief supplies for survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in November 2013. Photo by Mike DuBose/UMNS


 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Congregational teams of all faiths have gained a reputation in the area because they often remain months — and even years — after the disaster has struck and poor or elderly residents have exhausted whatever state and federal resources are available for rebuilding. Several of the faith groups are still helping people repair homes from Hurricane Matthew, which struck North Carolina in October 2016.

Altogether they blanket the area with know-how and can-do spirit.

“We’re not big enough to take care of it,” said Sam Loy, United Methodist response team coordinator for the North Carolina Conference. “And Baptist Men are not big enough to take care of it, and Samaritan’s Purse isn’t. There will be places where one or the other will take the lead in those areas, so we’re not stepping on top of one another. This storm, if it’s going to be as bad as they’re saying, it’s going to take two or three weeks to get the rescue stage done.”

Comments

  1. Wha?! No armies of atheists on stand-by getting ready to help their fellow man? Interesting.

    Seriously, a perfect example of living In Christ by serving others.

    God bless them and keep them safe.

  2. ” God bless them and keep them safe.”

    Idiotic !

    Why would God ” keep them safe ” when he has the ” power ” to turn Flo into a benign zeyphyr gently caressing the bathers on the beach and spare the ensuing death and destruction ?

    Idiotic !

  3. Well, the organization efforts sort of fell apart early on.

    No one knew how to represent a red nothing for a logo.

  4. Satan rules the world as you know; since you are one of his soldiers.

    Maybe you should make yourself useful and round up a bunch of your atheist buddies and head for the coast.

  5. Satan rules the world?? So the whole salvation/redemption thing regarding Jesus, the “Son of God”, is fake news?

  6. Doesn’t work that way as you know.
    Looking forward to seeing the angry dog and his buddies rebuilding the Carolinas soon.

  7. So Satan *doesn’t* rule the world? Make up your confused mind. Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat In The Hat” makes more sense than your Bible.

  8. How does it work, then? Your thoughts and prayers are worthless.

  9. Oh they are there. Just not reported here. Check out Friendly Atheist site for news on them.

    You are a perfect sample of Christians acting un-Christlike. Being petty, venal and spiteful for its own sake.

  10. Glad someone’s stepping up. If Trump responds to this like he did to Maria, these people will need the help.

  11. Not to go off-topic, but the number of detained minors is now nearly 13,000, in 100 detention centers. More than at any time in history.

  12. Because obviously child abduction and inhumane detainment was more important than disaster relief. /s

  13. ““God’s opened a lot of doors and given us a lot of opportunity,” said Richard Brunson, executive director of North Carolina Baptists on Mission, a collective of emergency response teams in the state. “We’re thankful for that. We want to glorify God if we have opportunities to, and we’re looking for the best way to do that right now.””

    I take this to mean that he thinks that his God has created, or at least chosen not to avert, a situation in which “Florence is likely to produce catastrophic flooding in the eastern Carolinas when it makes landfall Friday. Damaging winds and near-certain flooding from the massive rainfall will worsen the misery.”

    What a sad, miserable, petty-minded and evil God this guy worships.

    What a horribly damaged life that accepts this sort of God as worthy of worship.

    Does anyone need a clearer example of how the sadness and despair of human beings can be turned to sanctimonious self-promotion by irrational belief?

    This sort of Christianity, and this sort of Christian, are, IMO, loathsome.

    Fortunately good people will do good things with or without the accompaniment of superstitious belief – just as bad people do bad things irrespective of their attitude to religion.

  14. Dude- just asking a question.
    At least the Cajun navy rides to the rescue.

  15. Cat 4 storm now barely CAT 1. Hmmm… just saying. The funny thing is how many folks who hold such animus toward religion troll the religion news site.

  16. What a sad, miserable, petty-minded and evil God this guy worships.

    What a horribly damaged life that accepts this sort of God as worthy of worship.

    It’s highly understandable how the vast majority of people who worship that God also choose to worship, praise, and glorify Donald Trump. it’s almost as if Trump is the second son of their God because, as father and son, they have so many traits in common.

  17. Another “funny thing is how many folks” give credit to their God for anything deemed favorable, but refuse to hold Him responsible for a disaster . . . except when a disaster can be interpreted as directed toward other people as punishment for sin, in which case they praise and glorify Him for His supremely righteous actions.

  18. It’s highly understandable how the vast majority of people who mock those who worship God tend to worship, praise, and glorify Hillary “Deplorables” Clinton. it’s almost as if Clinton is the personification of their hatred of ordinary Americans, with whom they have essentially no traits in common.

  19. I assume you’re speaking of the average domestic relations court and the average American jail.

  20. If they did not do that, they’d have to face their miserable empty lives.

  21. I think the rest of us just want to be assured that we’re not like you.

  22. God bless all those who are helping people affected by Hurricane Florence. This is neighbor helping neighbor. This is faith in action. We need to see more of this. There is much good in the world – if we work to put it there and to look at the good others do.

  23. Obviously he wasn’t, Bob. Don’t be such a jerk.

  24. Fortunately, for both the US and the world, ordinary Americans don’t worship the foul, evil and despicable brain-f**t that this guy thinks he serves.

  25. The more you know about the situation in Puerto Rico, the less you hold the Federal Government responsible and the more you hold its homegrown hack politicians culpable.

    For example, they forced the Puerto Rico utility to skip maintenance for years to keep rates low – politically popular – until the utility’s bonds sunk to junk status and the grid neared collapse.

  26. Around these parts Bob, it’s you and your friends who bring up Hilary Clinton. She has faded away into the background noise of history, but you and the spray-tanned arsehole in the White House can’t seem to let the dead horse lie. You lot have to keep looking for the body to give it another whack.

  27. We know that the US Red Cross will be there as well. Perhaps goodly numbers of atheists and humanists volunteer with that organization.

    I’m sure that the LDS Church will be there also, breaking open the resources of the bishops’ storehouses in the affected areas. A lot of other religious orgs that many of you lot insult with the cult moniker are also involved with helping out.

  28. Pat Robertson is convinced that he saved his ministry’s property by praying that God divert the storm away from Virginia to smite other folks and not him and his. Although none of the storm track models ever thought that VA would suffer a direct hit!

  29. Hey DonnyBoy, this Bob Arnzen he is great mouthpiece for you. Does good work on knees with mouth. Even helps you get off hook for no support of Poorco Rico. We bring him to Moscow do more “internet research” for team Russiamerica yes?
    -Vlad

    Pootie Baby, I have problems now with my Team Swamp. Paul turned and Bobby is last of remaining members who service members. Maybe better have him in Moscow before he turn tail too.
    Luv Ya,
    DT

  30. A lot of other religious orgs that many of you…insult with the cult moniker are also involved with helping out.

    The agri-cult will be ready to feed the people.

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