Repairs, clean laundry, and food's on the way in Jesus' name

Repairs, clean laundry, and food's on the way in Jesus' name

Repairs, clean laundry, and food's on the way in Jesus' name

Hurricane Idalia left a swath of destruction in its wake this week, and Christian ministries are already stepping into the breach.

Idalia was a Category 3 storm when it slammed into the Florida coast at the Big Bend, north and west of Tampa. It is among the state's least-developed areas, which means the overall damage was limited.

Graham, Edward (Samaritan's Purse) Graham

Speaking on behalf of Samaritan's Purse, Edward Graham told the "Washington Watch" program this week that "this is the most destructive hurricane that's hit where the panhandle comes into the curve."

"These are more historical fishing communities," he noted. Still, livelihoods, including businesses and homes, "have been completely destroyed."

The Christian aid organization currently has volunteers in Florida's Pasco and Taylor Counties, but they are looking at extending their reach into other areas of the state, as well as in Georgia and South Carolina.

Eight Days of Hope President Steve Tybor adds that the people in the southwestern region of Florida, in towns like Perry, Live Oak, and Madison, took a direct hit. For them, the storm was a life-changing event.

Tybor's ministry is setting up shop in Perry.

"We're deploying our Rapid Response teams," he relays. "Our division will be taking Bobcats [and] bucket trucks [to] help out with some of the tree damage."

The hundreds of volunteers will also be equipped with muck out kits to help families clean out their homes that were flooded.

Tybor, Steve (Eight Days of Hope) Tybor

"We're gonna take our laundry unit," Tybor continues. "A lot of people think that's a minuscule thing to do. But when you've lost everything, and you don't have clean clothes, that's another thing you've got to worry about, because all the laundromats flooded as well."

And for the first time, Eight Days will be bringing food.

"For 18 months, we've been preparing to launch our brand-new arm of the ministry for Eight Days of Hope. It's our Mass Feeding arm," the ministry president details. "This unit, or two units, that we'll use to provide food is based at the same church for the community -- at no charge, of course. It can provide up to 8,000 meals every single day."

Eight Days of Hope volunteers will begin arriving this weekend, and they plan to be there at least through September 16th.

Likewise, Samaritan's Purse recognizes that it is going to take a long time for the affected areas to recover, and Graham says, "We don't want to leave until the work is done."

As volunteers provide spiritual and physical aid to hurting people, many of them will feel led to surrender their lives to Jesus Christ. So when the volunteers do leave, they want to be sure the local churches they partner with are established enough to love, minister to, and disciple those new believers.