Samaritan's Purse disaster relief teams spend time comforting a neighborhood as they tarp its roofs
Staring up at the bright blue tarp that covered his home, Fernando Mate couldn’t help but smile.Help Storm Victims in the U.S.While both his home and his mother’s house across the street were still standing, their roofs were badly damaged by the EF-4 tornado that swept through Louisville, Mississippi. Fernando hadn’t heard of Samaritan’s Purse before, but his friend had told him about our reputation when it came to tarping roofs.
“A friend of mine drove through Alabama and said that he saw a lot of these blue tarps still in place a year after Tuscaloosa,” the 40-year-old said. “A year! That’s amazing. I hope I won’t have to need this for that long, but it’s nice to know it will last if I need it.”
Samaritan’s Purse volunteers take extra care to ensure our disaster relief work isn’t just about helping as many storm victims as possible. It’s about making each homeowner’s situation the most important job on the list. Teams spent an entire day at both both Fernando’s and his mother’s homes making sure our signature tarps would be sufficient in protecting their homes from any rain that may come before it can be permanently patched.
Fernando’s 70-year-old mother, Bobbie, appreciated having her roof covered, but having people to listen meant more to her.
“You all came and visited me and made the rest of my day,” she said. “It’s a good feeling to be around good people. I always loved fellowshipping with people and always loved people, but this is a different feeling.”
When Bobbie first met someone from Samaritan’s Purse, she was elated to see she was already on the work order list because her son had signed her up. She was still very shaken up from the storm. She had lain in the hallway with her husband as all the glass windows shattered around them. With tears in her eyes, she shared her story with volunteers who prayed with her and spent time chatting with her over popsicles while they took a break from the roof work.
“They all just livened her up,” Fernando said. “It’s been really good for her.”
When his own roof was being tarped, Fernando said he enjoyed how he just spent the day laughing with the team and cracking jokes with them, despite the circumstances surrounding the situation.
“Sometimes I’m speechless to see people willing to give their time,” he said. “They want to do it. It’s different than if someone was sent or hired to help me. There’s a difference, and you can see it.”
Friendly Faces Help a Neighborhood
Samaritan’s Purse volunteers spent a lot of time in the Mates’ neighborhood helping homeowners deal with their damaged yards and roofs. One neighbor in particular, Nellie Nathan, was somewhat of a town legend, having spent the past 35 years teaching physical education and coaching children’s sports teams in Louisville. A tree had fallen through the roof of her bedroom, and her yard was littered with debris.
“I was just shocked,” Nellie said. “I was truly, truly upset. First time I had ever been in a tornado where it had hit. “
Nellie was relieved when a team of Samaritan’s Purse volunteers arrived on her doorstep. Not only were the volunteers from all over the country, but she also recognized some of the local ones from Louisville. One young man was actually a former student of hers.
The team spent two days tarping her roof and helping with her yard while also sharing some laughs and old tales about high school gym class jumping jacks. Nellie said she was very impressed by the help she received and enjoyed spending time with the volunteers.
“They did it, and they did it right,” she said. “I just appreciate Samaritan’s Purse because they just did a wonderful job. You made me feel well. “
For the entire neighborhood, it seemed like those friendly faces and shared laughs were just as important as a tarped roof.
“The Lord has taken it and made it something I don’t have to worry about,” Bobbie said. “I’m so glad you all were here.”