USA (MNN) — Survivors of Hurricane Michael began surveying the damage wreaked by the storm 72 hours ago. Words like ‘war zone’, ‘devastation’, and ‘gone’ described not only houses but whole neighborhoods in Florida panhandle communities that bore the brunt of the rampage.
Emergency crews were still making their way through rubble even as NGOs were putting plans into place to send help.
Food for the Hungry’s Beth Allen says, “The needs are pretty basic: they need non-perishable food, they need bottled water, and they also need to be able to clean up their houses. We have made connections with someone [in the Florida panhandle] who has been a partner of ours for quite some time… Now, we’re able to turn around and help this church in their time of need to help people in their area.”
This partnering church will be buying local emergency supplies and distributing them immediately.
“We are raising funds so that our trusted partner church can be able to do the outreach. They will be purchasing locally and then helping put together something they’re calling ‘Flood Buckets,’ which are cleaning buckets that are full of cleaning supplies and tools that can be used to clean up the house after a flood has come through.”
Allen says it’s the wreckage you can’t see down the line that will also need attention.
“Several weeks after a disaster, [we often see] increases in domestic violence, for example, or parents abusing children in ways that they probably wouldn’t normally do if it weren’t for the disasters.
“About a month after a disaster, you’ll see peaks and incidences of depression. You’ll also see anyone with a chronic disease, like asthma or high blood pressure, that’s exacerbated by a disaster. The stress makes it worse, and also their access to the medications they need will be disrupted.”
If there’s one thing that faith-based help teams are good at, it’s helping to shoulder a burden.
“When people are in need like this, just the fact that someone would take the time to show up and help really is putting the Gospel into motion…. It does cause people to ask questions: ‘Why are you doing this for me?’”
You can help, first of all, by giving to Hurricane Michael aid efforts through FH’s ministry partners. Click here to donate at FH’s website.
Finally, Allen adds, “We can definitely be praying for the wisdom of the people who are doing the responding…. Be praying for those people to be able to truly find those who are in need and to be able to take an assessment of what those needs are so that we can get those needs met as soon as possible.
“I think one of the biggest needs is just praying for the sense of grief and loss that so many people are going through right now.”
Header photo depicts heavy debris following Hurricane Michael. Photo courtesy of Staff Sgt. Carmen Fleischmann via The National Guard on Flickr under Creative Commons: https://goo.gl/N6FPgY