USA (MNN) — More than 40 people are dead across the southern United States as a Spring storm system spawned more than 240 tornadoes. North Carolina was one of the hardest hit areas as more than 60 twisters devastated the state, killing more than 20 people and leaving many homeless.
North Carolina is home to Samaritan's Purse . They've dispatched three Disaster Relief Units with trained emergency workers to eastern North Carolina in response to the most devastating outbreak of tornadoes in the state in more than 20 years.
Luther Harrison with Samaritan's Purse and is heading up the unit in Bertie County near the town of Askewville where 14 people lost their lives.
"We just want to go out and minister in any way [we can], whether it's cutting a tree or putting a piece of plastic on a roof, or just helping people sift through the debris and find things that can be salvaged."
The state emergency management director, Doug Hoell, described the storm as "the most severe, wide-spread tornadoes we have seen since the mid-1980s." Gov. Beverly Perdue declared a state of emergency for the entire state.
"Samaritan's Purse works all over the world responding to disasters, but there are times when some of the most difficult and hard-hit places are within a few miles of home. Our prayers go out to the families who lost loved ones in these terrible storms, and we'll be doing all we can to help," said Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the international relief organization Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, based in Boone, NC.
Samaritan's Purse is calling for volunteers to join its disaster relief teams to help clean up debris and make emergency repairs on houses. The organization has a network of thousands of volunteers who have experience responding to storms like this.
According to Harrison, "Our job is to go out, let our light shine, and plant 'seeds.' We have the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association coming alongside us, and their chaplains are going out. So many people lost their lives here. There are a lot of people trying to pick up the pieces, but they're in mourning."
The U.S. Disaster Relief teams of Samaritan's Purse are based in North Wilkesboro, N.C. within three hours of some of the hardest-hit locations.
Harrison says, "We've partnered with the local churches within the communities to get them to come alongside [us] because we're here for a short time. These churches are here for a lifetime, and we want them to be able to take care of any seeds that are sown while we're here."
Each Disaster Relief Unit is a tractor trailer stocked with emergency supplies and tools, which is ready to roll whenever disaster strikes. The relief units will function as self-supporting operations centers for volunteers and staff.
To volunteer with Samaritan's Purse or make a donation to help the storm victims, go to www.samaritanspurse.org.