Franklin Graham Encourages Residents and Volunteers in Hurricane-Hit Town

September 25, 2018 • United States

The Samaritan's Purse president traveled to New Bern, North Carolina, on Sept. 25 to see relief efforts.

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Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham traveled to hard-hit New Bern, North Carolina, today, thanking volunteers for their service and encouraging and praying with storm-weary homeowners.

Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham prays with a large group of volunteers in New Bern.

Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham prays with a large group of volunteers in New Bern.

He visited multiple home cleanup sites in the afternoon, personally greeting volunteers and asking them a little about themselves. He thanked them for the critical role they play in our work.

“We can have all the money in the world, but if we don’t have people like you, we cannot do this work,” he said. “It’s groups like you who are making a difference. You are giving them hope through the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for coming. You are the hands and feet of Jesus helping these homeowners. God bless you.”

“If we don’t have people like you, we cannot do this work.”

Our team members, who have come to New Bern from across the state and from around the country, expressed their gratitude to Graham for his willingness to come and see the work. One of our team leads said, “It means a lot that you’ve come.”

So far, more than 800 volunteers have assisted 83 families in New Bern.

Taking Time to Hear Homeowner Survival Stories

Hurricane Florence came ashore on Friday, Sept. 14, as a Category 1 storm, packing winds of 90 miles per hour. It soon stalled, then meandered around, dumping an epic amount of rainfall, swamping much of the state’s eastern coast. New Bern, a city of about 30,000 people, was quickly flooded, as rivers, streams, creeks, and canals overflowed their banks and rushed through neighborhoods.

Samaritan’s Purse responded quickly, sending staff and disaster relief supplies to assist homeowners in Jesus’ Name. Teams are working not only in New Bern, but also in Jacksonville and Wilmington. Volunteers are tarping roofs, chainsawing downed trees, and mudding out houses—ripping up damaged flooring, tearing out waterlogged sheetrock and insulation, and spraying for mold.

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During his time in New Bern, Franklin Graham talked with two homeowners, hearing their survival stories.

Franklin Graham presented a signed Bible to homeowners Bill and Charlene White.

Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham presented a signed Bible to homeowners Bill and Charlene White.

William “Bill” and Charlene White have lived in their home for 40 years. It had never flooded before, but Hurricane Florence did not spare them. Ten feet of water rushed into their backyard and came up over the railings of their deck. Grabbing their wedding albums, Bill and Charlene raced upstairs to a small craft room that’s built higher off the ground.

They didn’t sleep all night. The next day, the North Carolina National Guard, along with members of the Boston Fire & Rescue Squad, had to help carry the couple to safety in one of their vehicles.

“If it had not been for them, we would not have escaped,” Charlene said. “We know God blessed us so we could get out.”

When Bill, who is retired from Walmart, heard that Samaritan’s Purse was in town, he dashed over to Port City Community Church—where we’re based—and signed up for help. “They’re lifesavers,” he said. “Everyone has been so nice.”

Both Bill and Charlene appreciate how Samaritan’s Purse team members and the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains have prayed with them. “Every day the volunteers lift us up in prayer,” Charlene said. “They have been a blessing to us.”

Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham prays with homeowner Lorraine Jenkins, flanked at right by Luther Harrison, vice president of North American Ministries for Samaritan's Purse.

Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham prays with homeowner Lorraine Jenkins, flanked at right by Luther Harrison, vice president of North American Ministries for Samaritan’s Purse.

Billy Graham chaplains are serving alongside our volunteers on all three of our North Carolina deployments. “They came and talked to us, helping guide us through this crisis,” he said. “It was a shock a couple days later when we realized we only own a bed to sleep on.” Bill’s voice, cracking, grew faint.

Before leaving to the next home site, Graham presented a Billy Graham Training Center Bible to the Whites. “As we do everywhere we serve, we give a Bible to each homeowner,” he told them. “All the volunteers have signed it, so you can remember these wonderful people who helped at your home.”

Graham also met Lorraine Jenkins, who has lived in her home since 1984. She evacuated two days before Florence punched the coast, riding out the storm with nearby family. Her home was flooded by 18 inches of water.

Samaritan's Purse volunteers were hard at work in New Bern today.

Samaritan’s Purse volunteers were hard at work in New Bern today. They’re also at work in Jacksonville and Wilmington.

“I was worked up when I came home and saw everything ruined,” she said.

Lorraine connected with Samaritan’s Purse when she passed by Port City Community Church and saw our visitors tent. “I can’t explain in words how much your help means to me,” she said. “I’m happy, happy, happy, happy, happy.”

While talking with Graham and sharing her story, Lorraine mentioned that she had “faith but needed a little more strength.”

Graham then asked the volunteers to gather around Lorraine so he could pray with them for her: “Our Heavenly Father, Lorraine has asked for a little more strength. We ask that You will give that to her, that she will know that this strength comes from You.”

After he prayed, he turned to Lorraine and said, “God bless you. I hope He gives you a double portion, not just a little bit, but a double portion of strength.”

Blinking back tears, she said, “Thank you.”

Note: Hurricane Florence is long gone, but the storm’s effects continue to be felt. Samaritan’s Purse is monitoring the flooding that’s still taking place in South Carolina. Once swollen rivers crest—expected over the next few days—we will determine how we can best respond to meet the physical and spiritual needs of homeowners there.

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Hurricane Florence Relief Florence's record-breaking rains have caused devastating flooding. Our staff and equipment have been deployed to the North Carolina coast; we've established relief bases in New Bern, Jacksonville, and Wilmington. Volunteer teams are helping affected homeowners by cutting downed trees, clearing debris, tarping roofs, and working on mud-outs. Please pray for residents as they recover from the storm and also for our volunteers as they serve in Jesus' Name.

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