From the Office of the Governor, to the mayor of a small beachside community north of Flagler Beach, to individuals whose lives were in turmoil, Florida Baptist disaster relief volunteers have received expressions of appreciation for their tireless service after hurricanes struck the Sunshine State this fall.

Florida Governor Rick Scott expressed gratitude “for helping Florida families, visitors and businesses after Hurricane Hermine and Matthew impacted our state. Your hard work helped our families and businesses get back to normal.”

During last fall’s two hurricanes, Florida Baptist disaster relief teams helped 625 Florida homeowners whose homes were damaged—cleaning up debris, tearing out walls, providing mold remediation, tarping damaged roofs, cutting down trees and using heavy equipment to clean up property.  The work after the state’s hurricanes was among the 10 responses that involved hundreds of Florida Baptist volunteers.

Writing to Delton Beall, catalyst of the Florida Baptist Convention Disaster and Recovery Team, Scott said while traveling throughout Florida, he met with affected families and businesses “who are working hard to rebuild. Many businesses were able to quickly reopen because of your help.”

Noting that Florida is “strong and resilient,” the governor said, “we are blessed to not have the impacts and destruction seen in our neighboring states. When disaster strikes, we all have a role to play in helping our neighbors recover and get back on their feet. Thank you for the role you had in our state’s recovery efforts.”

In the beachside community of Beverly Beach, located north of Flagler Beach, Mayor Stephen Emmett extended “his deepest gratitude” to Florida Baptist DR leaders for the town, but especially on behalf of the residents of the Surfside Estates, a mobile home community for those who are 55 and older.

The beach town was heavily damaged by Hurricane Matthew’s slow march up the waters along the north Florida coast.

Many of the residents are more than 70 years “young,” Emmett wrote, “and while still remaining active are challenged with the physical task of picking up and moving large pieces of debris. The cleanup efforts were a true blessing to our seniors.”

Letters also were received from homeowners whose residences were devastated by the storms.

One woman shared how hemlock trees fell on both her parents’  and their neighbor’s homes. After the neighbor told them to go to First Baptist Palm Coast where the FBDR teams had established a command center, the trees were removed by a team from the Panhandle. They worked “tirelessly” for three hours, she noted.

When the job was done, the DR team, her parents and neighbor stood on the front lawn and prayed, she wrote. The homeowners each received a gift of a Bible as a reminder of the blessings of God in the midst of a storm.

Another homeowner recalled that a tree had crashed through their roof. “Given the scope of the disaster in our community, getting someone to our home seemed impossible,” she wrote. Then seemingly “out of the blue, a gentleman from your organization showed up and shortly thereafter we had a team working to clear two large trees, including one from the roof.”

In another letter, a family from First Palm Coast told of a team that helped their family cover damage on their roof with tarpaulin, “along with joining us in most needed prayers.”

In writing the letters, these three homeowners made contributions to the FBDR, so others, too, can be helped in times of crisis.

Beall said any commendation—from the governor and mayor, to the homeowners who are most  affected by the damage–should be credited to the selfless efforts of Florida Baptist volunteers who leave their own lives at a moment’s notice to help others at their point of need.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to serve and be right beside the citizens of Florida,” Beall concluded.

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