DR responds to Hurricane Florence, Tarrant Co. floods

DILLON, S.C. and FORT WORTH  Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief volunteers deployed to the Carolinas Sept. 24 in the wake of Hurricane Florence, which devastated the region with its storm surge reaching 13 feet and rainfall of 20 to 30 inches. Torrential rains also sent SBTC DR crews to two communities in Tarrant County where dozens of homes were flooded in late September.

Clean-up and recovery teams and feeding volunteers began serving in the South Carolina communities of Dillon and Conway, while other volunteers brought shower and laundry units to the North Carolina communities of Wallace and Wilmington. A chainsaw unit also deployed to Morehead City, N.C., Scottie Stice, SBTC DR director, said.

Crews committed to 12-day deployments, with SBTC teams rotating in and out, working alongside DR volunteers from the Carolinas and other states.

Monte Furrh of Bonham led the initial SBTC DR team to Dillon for mud-out operations in what became a boggy, bug-infested task.

“The mosquitos looked like buzzards with hypodermic needles,” Furrh told the TEXAN. “We doused ourselves with repellant every day.”

One homeowner, an octogenarian helped by Furrh’s team, sank to the ground in relief as the DR volunteers approached. The man exclaimed, “I don’t know where to start.”

“Don’t worry about it. We’ll take it,” Furrh replied as the team filled three dumpsters with ruined furniture and debris.

A second homeowner assisted by Furrh’s crew was a retired judge and former sheriff whose home sat some 15 feet from the Little Pee Dee River just east of Dillon.

The judge’s house, although built four feet above the ground, had taken on six feet of water during the storm.

Referring to Hurricane Matthew, which had swamped his home with 32 inches of water two years before, the judge told volunteers, “Nobody helped me then. I am glad to see you.” They prayed with him and presented a new Bible to replace the one lost in the flood.

The judge was a Christian, but his friend helping that day wasn’t receptive to the gospel.

“I’ve been bucking the Lord for 70 years,” the man told Furrh, who promised to pray for him.

“You planted a seed,” the judge told Furrh.

Furrh complimented the men and women on his team. Barbara Dunn and Ok Kyu Evan fogged crawlspaces under the homes with anti-mold mist while men pulled sheetrock and removed heavy debris.

Dunn helped to fog the property of Mickey Fore, a member of First Baptist Dillon whose family had recently finished repairs from Matthew, only to see their home submerged by rains from Florence.

“They had suffered one thing after another. This was the second time they lost all their earthly possessions in just two years,” Dunn said, praising the family’s faith.

Salvations occurred. South Carolina Baptist DR officials reported at Dillon that by Oct. 5, 80 people had trusted Christ across the state through the witness of DR teams, David Dean, DR unit director from Pflugerville, told the TEXAN.

Chaplain Thomas Hurlock of Groesbeck, on his first SBTC DR deployment, led one man to salvation in Christ and others to make spiritual recommitments in Dillon.

Most asked why the disaster had happened to them.

 “I am having a hard time with all this,” said a homeowner, admitting he had been curious about Christ for some time.

“You are not alone. God has led us here to help you out and show God’s mercy,” Hurlock replied. The man prayed to receive Christ as savior.

Dean recalled helping another overwhelmed homeowner who had recently lost his wife to a heart attack. The homeowner was amazed that the group had come all the way from Texas to help.

Another family planned to bulldoze their house, until they saw what the SBTC DR mud-out teams could do and asked for assistance.

“This is a spiritual ministry. It’s not just ripping out wet drywall,” Dean said.

Tarrant Co. DR revs up new volunteers

Early October also saw dozens of SBTC DR volunteers working in mud-out, feeding, chaplaincy, recovery and assessments, shower and laundry operations in Tarrant County. Volunteers either commuted to the area from their DFW homes or were hosted by Fort Worth’s Sagamore Baptist Church. Efforts focused on the Everman and Forest Hill communities.

Stice noted that the Tarrant County deployment included many new DR volunteers who had received online or classroom training last year during the response to Harvey.

“Their involvement has let us keep the teams we had designated for North and South Carolina on task there. We’ve been able to maintain both an in-state response and also help people in the Carolinas,” Stice said.

For more information or to donate, visit sbtexas.com/evangelism/disaster-relief.

Most Read

What does a special-needs family experience when they visit your church?

Editor’s note: The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention has designated July 14 as Disability Ministry Sunday. We walked up to the registration area for the children’s classes one Sunday at the church we were visiting in …

Stay informed on the news that matters most.

Stay connected to quality news affecting the lives of southern baptists in Texas and worldwide. Get Texan news delivered straight to your home and digital device.