Hundreds sign up to help Hurricane Idalia victims: 'God always brings us people'

Snapped trees and downed power lines cover a Florida street in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia.
Snapped trees and downed power lines cover a Florida street in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia. | Samaritan's Purse

Hundreds of Samaritan's Purse volunteers have signed up to help victims of Hurricane Idalia as Florida residents continue to assess the damage unleashed by the storm. 

Hurricane Idalia made landfall on the Gulf Coast of Florida Wednesday as a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds estimated at 125 miles per hour. The Saffir-Simpson Scale defines a Category 3 storm as one with maximum sustained winds ranging from 111-129 miles per hour, noting that such winds can cause “devastating damage.”

As it has in past natural disasters, the Christian humanitarian aid organization has deployed to the areas hardest hit by the storm. Currently, Samaritan’s Purse teams are on the ground in Taylor and Pasco Counties. 

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“God always brings us people because we’ll stay there sometimes for years doing rebuilds afterward, and we use volunteers for that,” said Edward Graham, chief operations officer for Samaritan’s Purse, in an interview with The Christian Post. “God’s given us what we need to be able to respond.” 

Graham estimates that 40 volunteers are already on the ground in Perry, Florida, one of the areas hardest hit by the storm. “We have hundreds that have already signed up on our website and will continue to, but we always ask for more volunteers because we will be there for a while, for the next several weeks and months cleaning up.”

A home in Florida sustains damage after a tree fell on it as Hurricane Idalia ripped through the state as a Category 3 storm.
A home in Florida sustains damage after a tree fell on it as Hurricane Idalia ripped through the state as a Category 3 storm. | Samaritan's Purse

Samaritan’s Purse volunteers will help residents in Florida’s largely rural Big Bend region by repairing the flood and wind damage to homes caused by the storm. “So we have a lot of debris to remove and a lot of mud outs, a lot of mucking of homes, cutting out the drywall, drying them out for these homeowners,” Graham added.

Graham’s father, the Rev. Franklin Graham, detailed the “mud out” process in a previous interview with The Christian Post conducted in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian last year: “You have to take the sheetrock off the wall so that air can get through the studs and then electrical wiring is going to have to be replaced, especially those sockets that got soaked in saltwater, those wires are going to have to be pulled out.”

As the younger Graham explained in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia, homes sustained damage from “high water coming in and then taking a while to recede after the storm surge that comes in. The saltwater makes it even more difficult to deal with,” he added, describing the “mud out” process as “hard work” and “dirty work” made even more daunting by the “hot and humid” weather.

“Our volunteers will be in Tyvek suits and a mask to help protect them from the mold. So that’s just very hard, gruesome work that we do to love our neighbors,” he said.

Graham told CP that Samaritan’s Purse is also assessing the damage in other parts of the country that Hurricane Idalia passed through, specifically Georgia and South Carolina. He predicted that most of the organization's efforts would remain focused on Florida, which experienced “heavy damage” as a result of the storm.

In addition to working to help people repair their homes, Samaritan’s Purse partners with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to send rapid response chaplains to “help share hope in Christ” with hurricane victims as Samaritan’s Purse volunteers help them with the cleanup process. 

Insisting that God is “here in the midst of the storm,” Graham praised the organizations’ joint efforts “to love people in the ditches of the world, to let them know that Jesus hasn’t forsaken them, hasn’t forgotten them and that God entrusts us with these resources and the volunteers to go help these people that are in the ditches of the world.”

Samaritan’s Purse volunteers stay at local churches as they work to help “get families back to a sense of normalcy” following natural disasters, while the churches “collect food and distribute it to those in need.” As they help Hurricane Idalia victims rebuild their homes and their lives, Samaritan’s Purse volunteers will be staying at Calvary Baptist Church in Perry and Living Word Church in New Port Richey, Florida. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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