After the fire: Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Relief teams provide long-term support for families in need

October 30, 2019 • Canada
Samaritan's Purse volunteers and staff sifted through ashes, removed fridges of rotting food, supplied clean-up equipment, and more during our wildfire response in Williams Lake, BC.
Samaritan's Purse volunteers and staff sifted through ashes, removed fridges of rotting food, supplied clean-up equipment, and more during our wildfire response in Williams Lake, BC.

“We’re so isolated, so we appreciate knowing someone cares about our situation.”

Whether its wildfires, floods or other disasters, Samaritan’s Purse volunteers come alongside affected homeowners to provide physical, emotional, and spiritual support. Often, we continue to help disaster victims long after the initial work is completed.

Whether its wildfires, floods or other disasters, Samaritan’s Purse volunteers come alongside affected homeowners to provide physical, emotional, and spiritual support. Often, we continue to help disaster victims long after the initial work is completed.

When hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and wildfires cause catastrophic damage to Canadian communities, Samaritan’s Purse rushes to meet the needs of those caught in the crises. Through the support of donors like you, our teams help families clean up and begin to put the pieces back together.

However, this is not the end of how we serve following a disaster. After initial cleanup is complete, the trauma and loss from a disaster can harm people for years. Difficult situations that exist before a disaster, like health concerns or financial stresses, can be intensified in the aftermath.

This was true for Gerald* and Cindy*.

After wildfires roared through northwestern B.C.’s Cariboo region, damaging and destroying many homes and buildings, one family felt especially helpless. Gerald and Cindy and their two children were already finding it difficult to make ends meet because of his work-related injury and her chronic illness that left them both unemployed.

Struggling to cope

Although their home survived the fire, an important storage building on their property did not. They lost many of their possessions. The couple’s physical challenges stopped them from being able to clean up, and the debris was a constant reminder of the fire. Coupled with their financial challenges, Gerald and Cindy were struggling to cope.

Samaritan's Purse volunteers and Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains pray with homeowners.

Samaritan’s Purse volunteers and Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains pray with homeowners.

Winter was also coming, and Gerald’s injury was preventing him from splitting firewood to fuel their woodstove throughout the next few months. Not knowing where else to turn, Gerald and Cindy called Samaritan’s Purse. One of our case managers met with them and, through the many personal connections we’d established in the region, connected them to a nearby church whose members supplied all the firewood the couple would need.

“Thank you for being willing to come out and visit us, and check in with us over the phone,” Cindy told Matt, our case manager. “We’re so isolated, so we appreciate knowing someone cares about our situation.”

Matt continued to drop in throughout the winter—building strong bonds of trust and friendship as they struggled to get their lives back on track. By early spring, Gerald’s health had improved, he’d found employment, and was making plans to replace his burned-down shed.

“We can do it.”

One day, Gerald and Cindy invited Matt to their home. They told him he was welcome to continue visiting them anytime—there would always be a warm cup of coffee waiting. But they also said: “We now feel we’re responsible for our own recovery and no longer need your help. We can do it.”

This is the goal as we journey with families following a disaster: seeing those who have been hard hit regain their confidence and ability to cope so they no longer needed ongoing support. Like the Good Samaritan, we were able to walk alongside Gerald and Cindy and help them toward recovery.

With your support, our teams will continue to care for many families across Canada who are trying to recover from the disasters that turned their lives upside down. Please continue to pray for them and for open doors to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

*Name changed to protect the person’s privacy

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