As of the date of this article being written, September 14, Hurricane Florence has made landfall on the coast of the Carolinas as a Category 1 hurricane. Don’t be fooled by the three-category downgrade; Florence is slow-moving and the amount of rainwater that it’s dumping is epic, flooding barrier islands and coastal regions. Already, daring rescues and half-flooded homes are being reported. Luckily, local relief efforts nationwide are already underway.
Churches have been support systems of the American community ever since colonial days. Small churches nationwide often pride themselves on being some of the oldest buildings in their communities, larger than most local structures built pre-19th century. They’re steeped in history. Today, technology allows these churches to impact communities even beyond their own.
In Columbus, Ohio, Rock City Church has specifically reached out to Charleston, South Carolina’s Seacoast Church. Seacoast is a local parish that is in the path of Florence. Rock City’s head pastor Steve Straka and his congregation are gearing up to support the Seacoast Church community once the storm passes. Most of the congregation of Seacoast evacuated with the urging of their pastor, Josh Surratt, whose family also evacuated.
“We can’t be helpful if we’re in trouble,” Surratt told his congregation.
Even as Rock City Church is getting ready to help Seacoast, Seacoast is preparing to help the greater Charleston community as the storm passes. Surratt reported that the church has rallied their own resources, including 15 to 20 crews of helpers waiting out of the storm’s path in Georgia.
Over in Paducah, Kentucky, Heartland Church’s youth center has made a plan to assemble baggies of personal care items, snacks, non-perishable items, and other necessities to send to Florence victims. Head Pastor Jeremiah Ross has expressed his pride for the proactive and giving attitudes of the youth center kids.
Your own local religious centers likely have food drives and other collections in the works for those impacted by Florence. Entire homes and livelihoods are being lost, so the need for funds, food, and support will be there for months and maybe even years to come. Check out your local center’s plans, or even help them organize a new drive to benefit Florence victims. North and South Carolinians are going to need all the love, support, and prayers they can get in the recovery time ahead.