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North America Response - 080654 International Crisis Response

Grateful Florida pastor thanks Canadians for helping clean up hurricane damage

After Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida panhandle in October 2018, the lives of Mike and Robin Stroud—and thousands of other residents in the town of Wewahitchka—were in tatters.

Then, thanks to the financial support of people like you, help arrived from Samaritan’s Purse Canada. And despair starting turning into hope.

“I thought it was crazy (for Canadians to show up and help hurricane victims),” said Mike, the senior pastor at Wewahitchka First Baptist Church. He was speaking while visiting Samaritan’s Purse Canada to encourage disaster relief staff who were gathered for a conference.

‘It Was a Wicked Storm’: Read how Samaritan’s Purse crews helped residents recover from Hurricane Michael

Samaritan’s Purse arrived in Wewahitchka just days after the hurricane severely damaged the community of 2,000 and two other nearby towns.

No electricity for at least 11 days

The Strouds’ house escaped relatively unscathed, but many nearby buildings were destroyed. Downed trees blocked most of the major roads, and many residents had no electricity for at least 11 days.

Working with the Strouds, we set up a Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Relief Unit (DRU) tractor trailer, plus support vehicles, on the church property and began offering physical and spiritual help to residents in the area.

These DRUs are stocked with disaster recovery equipment including generators, pumps, hand tools, and safety gear for volunteers. They also serve as volunteer coordination centers, and are equipped with a self-contained office, communications system, and other supplies.

Because U.S. Samaritan’s Purse staff were busy in other hurricane deployments, a team of Canadians led the recovery work in the Wewahitchka region until the end of December.

“It was fun having Canadians here, and everybody noticed the language differences,” said Mike. “And it wasn’t long before we were all family.”

Almost 1,500 volunteers helped nearly 1,000 families

Canadian staff helped create and drive a Samaritan’s Purse float in Wewahitchka’s Christmas parade. The float received wave after wave of sustained applause from parade watchers. “The Canadians who saw that—it was awesome for them and a highlight of the Samaritan’s Purse deployment,” Mike said.

By the time Samaritan’s Purse finished its four-month stay in Wewahitchka, 1,428 volunteers had helped 946 families—all at no cost to them. Just as important, during our deployment 70 people came to faith in Jesus Christ. Praise God!

“The Canadians were tremendous, especially during those first weeks when there was so much damage and so many hurting people,” Mike said. “Their sensitivity to love on people and encourage them was unreal.”

Mike has a message for Canadians like you who partner with Samaritan’s Purse: “Thank you for making it possible for these people to rescue us and invest in God’s Kingdom.”

Through your donations and prayers, you can help Samaritan’s Purse prepare to respond in Jesus’ Name to the next international disaster.

Please link arms with us so that together, we can show hurting people a savior who “plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV).

North America Response - 080654 International Crisis Response

Across North America, many communities struggle with major challenges. They are facing natural disasters or other unforeseen crises. They have physical needs, and often deep spiritual needs too. Local Christians want to reach out, but need our support. Your gifts will enable Samaritan’s Purse to respond promptly to these diverse and urgent needs in Jesus’ Name.