Disaster Relief Teams Help Homeowners After Greensboro Tornado

April 23, 2018 • United States

Samaritan's Purse staff and volunteers come together to aid families devastated by the April 15 storm.

Clara and Melvis Brown were expecting Sunday’s weather to be a simple thunderstorm, but things quickly took a turn for the worse when Melvis heard what sounded like a train barreling towards him.

The Brown's home was hard-hit during the tornado.

The Brown’s home was hard-hit during the tornado.

The sound was so out of place in their suburban neighborhood that he immediately knew something was wrong. He yelled for his wife, Clara, to meet him in the hallway.

As she made her way from a back bedroom, a tree crashed through their ceiling, covering Clara with plaster, insulation, and debris. Melvis quickly pulled her out and together they huddled in the hallway—waiting out the storm and praying they would survive.

Clara said the noise was unimaginable. “It sounded like it would bury me alive,” she said.

Finally the storm calmed, and the couple praised God that their lives were spared. Their home however was significantly damaged. A tree crashed through their roof bringing parts of the ceiling down and making their home susceptible to the elements. They didn’t know what to do.

Left to right: Homeowner Clara, her daughter Verlinda, and granddaughter Genesis.

Left to right: Homeowner Clara, her daughter Verlinda, and granddaughter Genesis.

The EF-2 tornado, packing 135mph winds, damaged more than 300 homes in Greensboro, North Carolina. Less than 24 hours after the twister touched down, Samaritan’s Purse dispatched disaster response specialists, volunteers, and a tractor-trailer stocked with tools, generators, tarp, and other relief supplies to help.

Assessors soon began canvassing hard-hit neighborhoods and reaching out to families affected by the storm.

That’s when a Samaritan’s Purse team met Clara and Melvis—a meeting that they described as a miracle. They were weary from trying to salvage personal belongs and unsure of the next steps to take when Samaritan’s Purse offered to help.

“So much has happened to so many people, but God saw us in the midst of it all,” Clara said. “Nobody wants to go through this, but if you have to, you want people just like Samaritan’s Purse—people who believe in Jesus—around you. It makes all the difference.”

Samaritan’s Purse volunteers used chainsaws to remove downed trees, cleared debris and tarped the roof—temporarily protecting the home and belongings from further damage. The Browns were speechless when they saw the transformation that occurred after more than a dozen volunteers pitched in to help.

Being the Hands of Jesus

Every homeowner we help receives a Bible signed by the volunteers who worked on their home.

Every homeowner we help receives a Bible signed by the volunteers who worked on their home.

One of our volunteers working in Greensboro is Abby Holmes. A nurse by trade, Abby is using her days off to volunteer with Samaritan’s Purse. Each week she works three, twelve hour shifts at a hospital in Abingdon, Virginia.

This three-day work week gives her the opportunity to go on what she affectionately describes as “working vacations.”

Abby will volunteer with Samaritan’s Purse for two days before driving back to Virginia to work her three shifts as a nurse. She plans to continue to commute between the two locations for the duration of the response.

“It’s easy to volunteer. You just show up and love on people,” Abby said. “It doesn’t matter the color of your skin or where you’re from, everyone comes together to help.”

Volunteers work hard to remove yard debris.

Volunteers work hard to remove yard debris.

Abby has been volunteering with Samaritan’s Purse since 2016 when one of her patients challenged her to get involved. The patient, who was affected by the unprecedented flooding in West Virginia, told her that they didn’t need any more money or supplies—they needed hands.

This stuck with Abby, and she became passionate about living out her faith in a tangible way—using her hands to show God’s love to hurting people.

Since then Abby has volunteered with Samaritan’s Purse after the wildfires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee; flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; a hurricane in Edgecombe County, North Carolina; and now the tornado response in Greensboro.

“The love of the Lord compels me to help,” she said. “To be able to help them physically and also minister to them and maybe plant a seed is an amazing experience.”

Samaritan’s Purse relies on volunteers like Abby to help thousands of families every year recover from natural disasters such as tornadoes, floods, wildfires, and ice storms.

This is the body of Christ at work—strangers coming alongside each other to share the hope of Jesus Christ even in the midst of a disaster.

U.S. Disaster Relief Samaritan's Purse mobilizes and equips thousands of disaster relief volunteers to provide emergency aid to U.S. victims of wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. In the aftermath of major storms, we often stay behind to rebuild houses for people with nowhere else to turn for help.

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