World Vision responds to Hurricane Matthew’s U.S. east coast destruction

In hard-hit Portsmouth, Va., Hope Charitable Services, a World Vision partner, is delivering relief supplies from a World Vision warehouse. (©2016 Frank Allen)

Hurricane Matthew blasted the U.S. east coast, leaving more than 40 people dead and thousands of homes flooded and without power. Attention is focused at World Vision on  Matthew’s devastation in Haiti as well as recovery in the U.S.

The storm saved its heaviest rainfall for the Carolinas. But communities all along the Eastern Seaboard experienced damaging floods and storm surge.

World Vision quickly dispatched semi truckloads of relief supplies to North Carolina and Virginia. Pre-positioned goods went to evacuated families in Georgia.

“We want these supplies to provide tangible help to churches serving local families in need and to communicate our support and solidarity with them as they rebuild,” says Nate Youngblood, World Vision’s director of domestic disaster response.

Churches and partner organizations are calling for more supplies in Florida and Georgia. Cleaning supplies, mosquito nets, tarps, gloves, toys, and hygiene items are still needed.

Mayor Thomas Allen (black vest) and citizens of Greenville, N.C., hold a prayer meeting next to the Tar River as the river rises after Hurricane Matthew. (©2016 World Vision, Laura Reinhardt)
Mayor Thomas Allen (black vest) and citizens of Greenville, N.C., hold a prayer meeting next to the Tar River as the river rises after Hurricane Matthew. (©2016 World Vision, Laura Reinhardt)

 Prayer turns to praise on the flooded riverbank

As the Tar River rose, Greenville, N.C., mayor Thomas Allen called for prayer. Hundreds of citizens gathered with him near the Greene St. bridge, which is closed to traffic because of high water. Hear the NPR story.

“The waters may rise, but we rise higher,” he said. “We are stronger than that. Our faith is stronger than that. Our community is stronger than that.

“We are going to pray away these floodwaters,” Mayor Allen said. Together they bowed their heads and fervently prayed, “Our Father, who art in Heaven….”

Emotions were high as they sang Amazing Grace:

“Through many dangers, toils and snares…”

Lifting hands and voices, they ended the hymn in a full verse of only two words: Praise God!

Tharon Gillispie’s family stands beside the flood-swollen Tar River in Greenville, N.C. They evacuated their home in nearby Grifton as the water rose. Standing, left to right, Tharon’s wife Cynethia, daughter Emaya, 11, mother-in-law Cherie Perkins, Tharon holding baby Logan, and son Zeke, 12. ©2016 World Vision, Laura Reinhardt)
Tharon Gillispie’s family stands beside the flood-swollen Tar River in Greenville, N.C. They evacuated their home in nearby Grifton as the water rose. Standing, left to right, Tharon’s wife Cynethia, daughter Emaya, 11, mother-in-law Cherie Perkins, Tharon holding baby Logan, and son Zeke, 12. ©2016 World Vision, Laura Reinhardt)

Families fend off fear with faith

Tharon Gillispie’s family and home in Grifton, North Carolina, survived a direct hit from Hurricane Matthew. Then the flood waters began to rise and so did their fears.

“Here we go again,” he said. Tharon remembers Hurricane Floyd from 1999. It was called the 500-year storm, and he lost his job because of it. He worries this year’s flood could be as bad or worse.

Four-year-old Sophie and 15 members of her extended family fled their coastal Georgia home ahead of Hurricane Matthew. “I miss my bed,” she said as she settled into a shelter in Valdosta, Georgia, and listened to the worried voices of the adults around her. Read more.

Families affected by flooding in inner city Portsmouth, Va., line up to receive supplies from a local World Vision partner. (©2016, World Vision, Frank Allen)
Families affected by flooding in inner city Portsmouth, Va., line up to receive supplies from a local World Vision partner. (©2016, World Vision, Frank Allen)

Quick hurricane response in Virginia

Pastor Frank Allen says a combination of high tides and storm surge from Hurricane Matthew caused sudden, unexpected flooding in Portsmouth, Virginia.

“An inner city housing project, Swanson, really had it bad, with flood water backing up the sewage system,” he says. “It wasn’t supposed to be bad here, so first responders were deployed elsewhere.”

Pastor Allen’s church, Sanctuary of Hope, and its community outreach arm, Hope Charitable Services, were fortunate to have World Vision-donated relief goods on hand to distribute right away to Swanson residents whose homes were damaged by floods.

Field reporting by Laura Reinhardt

Help respond to Hurricane Matthew in the U.S.

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