October 24, 2018
By Carrie McGuffin
DECATUR, Ga.—The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship continues its response in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and is working to select disaster response engagement sites for long-term recovery in the Florida Panhandle following Hurricane Michael.
Hurricane Michael struck the Florida Panhandle as a Category 4 storm—the strongest on record for that region. The high storm surge and powerful winds flattened buildings and trees throughout the region, resulting in dozens of deaths and 400,000 residents being left without power.
CBF of Florida and CBF Disaster Response began evaluating need in the Panhandle, one of the poorest regions of Florida, as soon as access was granted to the area, and sites with the most need are being selected for long-term recovery efforts.
CBF of Florida is preparing to engage in two-to-three underserved areas, and Kenny Phillips, co-pastor of Seeker Fellowship in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., will serve as the local Disaster Response Volunteer Coordinator to manage those recovery efforts.
One of the places that CBF will be engaging in these efforts is Port St. Joe, a small town of 3,500 on the Gulf Coast. Hurricane Michael devastated the town with a 13-foot storm surge that flooded the streets closest to St. Joseph Bay. The rest of the town felt the effects of the category four winds as roofs were ripped off homes, windows were blown out and huge trees toppled. The town’s high school has been deemed unusable and both gas stations were destroyed, leaving the town lacking much of its basic infrastructure.
CBF is currently seeking teams to travel to Port St. Joe to begin the work of mucking out homes, clearing roads and yards of debris, repairing and rebuilding roofs and repairing and rebuilding homes. Learn more about the opportunities available for teams at www.cbf.net/dr-volunteer.
Work in the Carolinas
As other areas of response are determined in Florida, CBF continues to engage in eastern North Carolina, where efforts in the town of Trenton are in full-swing with the help of volunteer teams from across the Fellowship. Local volunteer coordinator Daynette Snead, associate pastor of First Chin Baptist Church in New Bern, N.C., continues to coordinate teams of volunteers in restoring the town’s American Legion building, town hall and homes in the Haiti neighborhood. Opportunities for volunteer teams are ongoing.
Work is now beginning in the Columbus County area of North Carolina, located west of Wilmington. Ryan Clore, pastor of First Baptist Church of Whiteville, N.C., located in Columbus County, offered an update on the area that was still recovering from Hurricane Matthew (2016) when Hurricane Florence hit, and a call to any Cooperative Baptists who want to assist in rebuilding the underserved county.
“Many areas across Columbus County were hit very hard from Hurricane Florence,” Clore said. “There were hundreds of homes that were flooded, and to date there are over 150 houses that have yet to be mucked out. Florida Baptists were a strong presence in our area after the storm, but the arrival of Hurricane Matthew meant that they had to return to protect their own homes. Since their departure, there are currently no outside organizations working in our county. First Baptist Church of Whiteville is committed to housing any teams willing to come work in our area, so we’re putting a lot of hope in our CBF partners when we say, ‘We need help.’”
Todd Padgett, the local CBF Disaster Response volunteer coordinator for Columbus County, is working alongside Clore and FBC Whiteville to bring teams to the area where they are urgently needed.
Nearby, CBF of South Carolina is also in the midst of flood recovery efforts in Conway alongside local partner, Impact Myrtle Beach. CBF Disaster Response is assisting with advertising volunteer needs in Conway and the online registration of teams.
In these and the forthcoming areas of engagement, teams are desperately needed to get down to the work of recovery as families return home with the hope of returning to normalcy, according to Rick Burnette, CBF’s disaster response director.
“This work cannot happen without the generous gift of time and work of the CBF family, as well as generous financial gifts to ease the burdens of those who have lost everything,” Burnette said.
Support the long-term recovery work of CBF Disaster Response today with a special gift. Your donation will change lives and bring hope. Gifts can be made at www.cbf.net/dr-give. If you prefer, you may also give by mailing a check payable to “CBF” to:
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
PO Box 102972
Atlanta, GA 30368-2972
*Be sure to include “Hurricane response” in the memo line
CBF is a Christian network that helps people put their faith to practice through ministry efforts, global missions and a broad community of support. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.