Over 100 days have passed since Hurricane Michael ravaged Panama City. There really are no words to paint an accurate picture of the devastation that lies in the wake of this storm – even months after the event. Those who visit speak with wide eyes and faint pallor when they say, “We had no idea. Pictures cannot do justice to this.” Many still live in tents in their muddy yards among the debris that was once their home. Many are jobless. Homeless. Carless. Many feel forgotten.
I have spoken with and read sentiments from people all over the country who express concern and want to help. Many have sent and continue to send building supplies, gift cards, checks, food, toiletries, and clothing. Some sent Christmas gifts that made people forget discouragement for a day. This offers hope and encouragement, certainly! There is hardly a day that passes that we don’t receive some kind of correspondence from someone or some group that asks, “What do you need? What can we do?”
We’d like to address that question, “What do you need? What can we do?” And we’re going to be perfectly honest.
Bay County has experienced the blessings of large groups like Samaritan’s Purse, Direct Relief, American Red Cross and others (and for that, we are thankful). Local businesses are helping as much as they can. The problem is this: It’s overwhelming. There is so much damage to so many places. Contractors, handymen, etc. are overwhelmed and just unable to get help to everyone who needs it fast enough. It’s sometimes difficult because many residents moved and now there are fewer skilled workers. (And sometimes, sadly, there is gouging and those taking advantage of the storm victims) Sometimes the bid to receive a new roof is three months out…and it’s raining now. It’s cold now. So, one disaster just breeds more disasters.
The greatest help seems to come from local churches and the organizations and individuals that support them! If you want to know how to help those affected by Hurricane Michael, the simple answer is this: Come. Laborers are needed here. Electricians. Arborists. Plumbers. Carpenters. Builders. Drywallers. Tree-removers. General handymen. Those who can install floors, windows, roofs, concrete. Those with trucks, excavators, bobcats, and stump grinders. There is demolition, clearing, rebuilding, roofing and repairs enough for years and years to come.
So, honestly. If you want to help in the greatest way, respond to the call,”Whom shall I send?” and answer, “Here I am! Send me.” All it takes is a phone call. Contact my cell phone at 772-532-3776 and let us know the dates you may have available. We’ll line up the projects. YOU will be blessed… that’s a promise!
Pastor Grant & Jennifer Powell