After Hurricane Matthew submerged South Mills, North Carolina, one United Methodist pastor loaded up a six-wheel drive military vehicle and drove into floodwaters to deliver bottled water and food and prayers to trapped residents.
The Rev. Bruce Willis, pastor of McBride United Methodist Church, put out a call for help, and one of his church members loaned him a deuce and a half military vehicle.
He took the truck to a housing unit and some neighboring homes.
Willis said the same area flooded three weeks ago and the ground was still saturated.
"We helped as many as we could," Willis said. He doesn't really know how much bottled water and food he delivered. "I just know when we left the back of the truck was full and when we came back it was empty."
"It's going to take a while to recover," he said.
|McBride United Methodist Church, South Mills, North Carolina, had eight to 10 inches of flood water in the fellowship hall after Hurricane Matthew. The ground was already saturated from September floods.
McBride's church also received 8 to 10 inches of floodwater in its fellowship hall.
Hardest-hit areas are in Windsor, Lumberton and Goldsboro. Derek Leek, director of communication for the conference, said the flooding was not as bad on the coast as in those areas by rivers.
"There are multiple people out of their homes, and the major concern is where will they go," Huffman said. The high school has been the major shelter, but it needs to reopen soon so classes can resume.
Hurricane Matthew, one of the fiercest hurricanes in nearly a decade, has left nearly 1,000 dead in Haiti and at least 38 dead in the United States — 19 in North Carolina. The state's officials fear the toll may go higher.
The hurricane formed near the Windward Islands on Sept. 28 making landfall in Haiti and eastern Cuba on Oct. 4 as a Category 4.
The United Methodist Florida Conference reported 29 church claims of damage as of Oct. 11.
"Our churches fared amazingly well," said LaNita Battles, the conference's director of Ministry Protection. "None of the churches appear to have damage which makes them uninhabitable. My rough estimate of damage thus far is $500,000 to $700,000."
Six of the 12 districts in the South Carolina Conference have seen damage from the storm, several of those with massive flooding, and the conference has opened up its disaster response hotline to begin helping people in need.
Ways you can help. Cleaning buckets are needed in all affected areas. The United Methodist Committee on Relief has directions on their web site for assembling the buckets. Donations can be given online at Disaster Response, International #982450 and United States Disaster Response Fund.
North Carolina, South Carolina, and South Georgia are also asking for donations. The Florida Conference offers ways to help.
Kathy Gilbert, multimedia news reporter, United Methodist News Service
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