Today, I'll be in Wilmington, N.C., helping one of our grantees celebrate a 20th anniversary. The timing couldn't be more appropriate.
The Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry, or WARM, began in 1996 when local United Methodist Church leaders organized disaster relief crews to repair damage caused by back-to-back hurricanes. Since then, WARM has worked to rebuild homes and restore hope for low-income neighbors in coastal North Carolina. Thousands of volunteers, mostly from the faith community, have donated time and muscle.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, we see again the urgent need for help. Matthew made landfall in Haiti and eastern Cuba on October 4, leaving a path of devastation. As it churned up the coast, both South Carolina and North Carolina experienced massive flooding. At least 500 storm-related deaths have been reported in Haiti; the U.S. toll has reached 43, with 26 deaths in North Carolina. Authorities estimate at least $1.5 billion in damage in North Carolina alone.
WARM's executive director, Jeannie Cariker "JC" Skane, says that her staff members are assessing damage to homes on their waiting list and accepting new applications from people affected by the storm. Proceeds from WARM's anniversary Harvest Luncheon will help them recover. Another way to help victims of Hurricane Matthew is through the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Despite best efforts, we know that recovery will be slow, and rebuilding lives and livelihoods will be a long-term prospect. As the weather turns and the headlines shift, we must keep our neighbors near and far in our thoughts and prayers.