The last 10-mile drive into Ivanhoe, NC, on Dec. 11, was not what we expected for our mission. It was flat, largely rural farmland, but evidence of poverty abounded. Broken-down buildings and trailer homes frequently interrupted the landscape. More subtly, there were signs of flooding. The ground was saturated and puddles flourished after the slightest of rain. Some boarded-up homes and buildings were clearly abandoned, while others had RVs parked outside with building materials stacked in the yard.
This is what our BCNE multi-church rebuild mission team of six encountered when we first arrived on the field. It had been three months since the catastrophic landfall of Hurricane Florence in North Carolina, and the recovery phase of Disaster Relief had just ended two days prior. Our mission team was the first to serve in the rebuild phase.
Under the direction and care of Richard and Tammy Weeks, leaders of the Eastern Baptist Association in Warsaw, NC, our team served five days in December, completing most of the work on Dusty and Tiffany’s home. The team finished demolishing half of the home’s floors, in addition to putting up drywall, mudding walls and other tasks. Carpenter’s Hands Ministry of New England was on-hand to assist with equipment and Boyce Brogden’s drywall expertise. One of our team members helped with a new thrift store ministry as well.
Aftermath of Hurricane Florence
What our team saw was just a hint of the record-breaking impact Hurricane Florence had on North Carolina:
48 souls perished
Up to 36 inches of rainfall, resulting in 9.6 trillion gallons of flooding up to 35 feet above flood stage, taking up to 3 weeks for the waters to recede
2,200 primary and secondary roads were closed due to flooding
$20 billion in damage incurred
130 million people / households registered for needing assistance with FEMA across three states
Thousands of homes in need repair or rebuild
$980 million of soybean, corn, cotton and other crops destroyed
$3 million of poultry livestock destroyed
The BCNE has made a commitment to partner with NC Baptists On Mission and Eastern Baptist Association of Warsaw, NC, in their effort to rebuild 550 homes in their association, while also partnering with the government’s STEP Program for getting owners back in their homes sooner.
You Can Make a Difference
Your church can help! We need two kinds of short-term mission teams willing to serve in North Carolina in 2019: construction rebuild teams and ministry teams to serve in the thrift store. Home reconstruction may involve installing drywall and plywood flooring, minimal bathroom and kitchen installs and various other tasks to get homeowners back into their homes. Along the way, you can also meet spiritual needs.
The Eastern Baptist Association has a mobilization site that takes care of volunteer housing, work assignments, construction materials and food, so teams just need to take care of their transport there and home again. Contact Tim Buehner at 508-393-6013 x222 to schedule a trip and get connected.
Tim Buehner is the mobilization and ministry evangelism coordinator at the Baptist Convention of New England.