Florence Update: Ministry to Evacuees

By   •   September 13, 2018

Thousands sought refuge as Florence made its wasy across the Carolinas and up through the Mid-Atlantic. Billy Graham chaplains are responding to offer emotional and spiritual care to those affected. .

Before Hurricane Florence made landfall, more than one million people were encouraged to evacuate their homes to escape its massive winds and excessive rainfall. For days, traffic clogged highways and shelters opened across the state for those seeking refuge.

In the meantime, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) is responding by offering emotional and spiritual care throughout North Carolina.

“We’re in prayer and listening to the Lord’s direction of where He needs us to be,” said crisis-trained chaplain Al New, who began his RRT career with Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The storm has endangered lives and created havoc along the way, with many coastal residents taking advantage of inland shelters.

Rapid Response Team chaplain Leo Grabowski talks with an evacuee named Brandon who wanted to know more about what it means to have a relationship with Christ.

From past experience, New believes there’ll still be people in need after the shelters close.

“There’s going to be a lot of people homeless,” he said.

Fellow chaplains Kevin Williams and Leo Grabowski are serving alongside New and bringing hope to those displaced.

“A 22-year-old just wanted a Bible really bad,” Grabowski said of an evacuee he met named Brandon.

After Grabowski gave Brandon the Bible, he showed him how to use it and told how he could have .

chaplain high fives child
Chaplain Al New high fives a young evacuee, bringing encouragement to a nerve-wracking storm situation.

Brandon realized he didn’t have a relationship with the Lord.

“The light went on,” Grabowski said. “He finally understood what it meant to be a Christian.”

The chaplains hope other evacuees will have this same peace to weather life’s storms. They’ve seen many who are nervous about what they’ll find when they return home, and they expect disaster relief agencies, first responders and officials to be drained as well.

“They’re going to need prayer and encouragement,” said Williams, who realizes from his own career in law enforcement that first responders don’t get to leave the storm and often lose communication with their families.

Although families may be split apart during times of disaster, it often draws people closer together.

“It’s going to bring people together who normally have nothing to do with each other,” New explained. “All are equally involved. For a moment in time, they’re really going to be equal.”

Please join us in prayer for all those recovering from the storm.