Franklin Graham in the Florida Keys to See Disaster Relief Work

September 24, 2017 • United States
Franklin Graham encouraged Samaritan's Purse volunteers in the Keys on Sept. 22.

Volunteers have begun work on this hard-hit island chain as other teams continue to dig out and clean up in other hurricane-ravaged areas of the state.

Update: Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham went to the Florida Keys on Sept. 22 to encourage volunteers and see firsthand the damage caused by Hurricane Irma.

“There’s been a lot of damage down here in the Keys as a result of the hurricanes, not only here but the Caribbean and Texas,” he said. “I just want to say thank you to everyone who has given to Samaritan’s Purse to help with these tremendous storms that have come through and devastated people’s lives.”

Volunteers in the Florida Keys are clearing debris from yards and homes.

Volunteers in the Florida Keys are clearing debris from yards and homes.

He was joined by journalist Greta Van Susteren and her husband John Coale.

Irma came ashore as a Category 4 in the Keys, obliterating some sections of the chain of islands. Samaritan’s Purse volunteers started work in Key West on Sept. 20.

As of Sept. 24, our work now stretches from Naples to the island chain of the Florida Keys. We had two additional bases—one in Apopka, north of Orlando, and one in Fort Myers—but we have now completed our work in those areas.

Samaritan’s Purse U.S. Disaster Relief has expanded our Hurricane Irma response to the Keys to help more Floridians affected by the storm.

Hurricane Relief

Our teams in Florida are serving storm-weary homeowners in Jesus’ Name by tarping roofs, cutting up trees, and doing mud-outs. Joined by Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains, we are bringing the hope of the Gospel to many suffering people.

God’s Love in Action

John Bassaillon and his wife Catherine experienced the work of our volunteers in the Lehigh Acres area of Fort Myers.

John Bassaillon and his wife Catherine read their new Bible after receiving Jesus Christ as their Savior.

John Bassaillon and his wife Catherine read their new Bible after receiving Jesus Christ as their Savior.

When Irma swept through their neighborhood, their front yard looked like a wind-swept lake with 140-mph gusts causing white-crested waves.

Branches rained on their yard, John said, and shingles were ripped off their roof. After the storm cleared, they weren’t sure what to do next, but God sent help.

“My neighbor Corey is involved with Samaritan’s Purse and one of the first things he did was call me and show great concern for us and for the water coming into the house. Then he called me again and told me ‘I got a couple of guys coming over to take care of your roof for you,'” John said. “About 10 minutes later a man named Dennis called and said he was at my house already.”


When John arrived home from work three trucks were parked along his street and a dozen people in orange Samaritan’s Purse shirts were cleaning up his yard. Dennis, the site team leader, was on the roof tacking down blue plastic sheeting over damaged areas.

Our teams present a Bible to a homeowner in the Keys.

Our team presents a Bible to a homeowner in the Keys.

“It just brought tears to my eyes that all these people would come out here and every one of them was very jovial and happy they could be here in the Name of Jesus Christ and serve us,” John said.

After the volunteer team completed their work, they gave John and Catherine a Bible signed on the inside cover by each of the volunteers. As chaplains spoke with the couple, they walked them through the Gospel in their new Bible—and both of them received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

“I really didn’t know Jesus and now I know,” John said. “I became one with Christ. Now we both have new birthdays 10 days before my old birthday. I feel a lot more secure now with how I feel with God and Jesus. I’ve seen what He can do when you ask.”

A Broader Response Continues

Our international response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria continues on several Caribbean islands with teams providing food, water purifications units, shelter materials, hygiene kits, and other supplies to communities devastated by the storms.

Meanwhile, in Texas, we continue helping hundreds of homeowners from five locations hit by the wind and deluge of Hurricane Harvey.

Please continue to pray for the many people suffering in the wake of these disasters and for our volunteer teams as they work to meet so many needs in the Name of Jesus.

Note: This article was originally published on Sept. 21. It was updated on Sept. 22 with information about Franklin Graham’s trip to Key West. The update on completing work in Ft. Myers and Apopka was made on Sept. 25.

Bahamas destruction-Hurricane Dorian
Hurricane Relief Samaritan's Purse responds to the urgent needs of families devastated by the wind, rain, and storm surge of catastrophic hurricanes. We come alongside hurting people to bring emergency relief and practical help in the Name of Jesus Christ.

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