The stench of mildew hung in the air and piles of debris encroached on narrow roads as Somebody Cares network teams delivered hot meals this week to a mobile home community that was flooded by Hurricane Ian. Families tell how they had to hold their children on their shoulders during the storm so they would not drown as flood waters rushed through their homes and streets.

Off the beaten path, our teams provided the first assistance this neighborhood had seen, providing daily meals, comfort bears for children, and solar powered lights for these families. Somebody Cares is also considering others ways we can partner with area churches to reach out to this devastated area.

Lisa Stringer and SCA’s Vice President, Jodie Chiricosta, were in Florida this week meeting with local church and organizational partners to assess the changing needs of Ian response. Meetings with New Level Church, Venice House of Prayer, Refresh Church, Broadway Community Church, Skyline Church, Gulfside Church, CRI, Burnt Offerings, Blood-n-Fire Muncie, Ally Force, SC Tampa Bay, and others provided great insight on what response is needed in different areas. Lisa and Jodie also provided resources for churches to distribute to help in the recovery process: gift cards for generator fuel and special needs; comfort bears for children; solar powered lights; coolers, fans, and other supplies. The meetings also directed where deliveries of groceries, generators, power washers, paper goods, and other supplies will be best utilized.

“Throughout Venice, Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and Pine Island, communities are in various stages of relief and recovery,” Jodie observed. “The needs vary from place to place, but pockets of desperation, like the mobile home community our teams discovered this week, are still to be found.”

In places like Pine Island–where homes were swept off their foundations, flood waters rose high, roads were damaged, and high winds downed power lines and destroyed roofs–there is still a need for hot meals and muck out teams. Those things are also needed in Cape Coral, Fort Myers, and other areas where flooding in homes affected the electrical wiring, so turning on power is not possible.

“In communities throughout Ian’s path, homes are being gutted and water-logged appliances and furniture removed,” Jodie continued. “Already, mold and mildew remediation is required because of the extreme heat and humidity. Families will likely have a long wait for building supplies needed to repair their homes. Many residents did not have flood insurance, or their deductibles are high, so they will need assistance with replacing basic items like refrigerators, kitchen ranges, mattresses, and A/C units.”

Seniors on fixed incomes struggle to find temporary housing while their homes undergo mold remediation and repairs, while families with children try to cope without power, furniture, and toys.

Many residents as well as first responders are also dealing with PTSD, Jodie adds.

“There is a sense that the loss of life and property far exceeds what has been nationally reported so far. And the trauma of their experiences during the storm adds to issues they are still dealing with from COVID.”

But in the midst of great loss, Lisa and Jodie saw the Church rising up to be a tangible expression of God’s love in powerful ways. Pastors shared how local believers are responding to the needs of their neighbors–and doors are opening to share Christ’s love. Teams of volunteers are coming from around the U.S. to help with tree removal, muck outs, blue roofs, home repairs, cooking hot meals, and more.

Somebody Cares will continue to respond to needs, helping families recover by sending resources and supplies; mobilizing volunteer teams to help; and supporting local churches as they identify and help their neighbors.

It will take months just for the clean-up and more than that for rebuilding. But as you join us we can share the hope of Christ in Word and deed to those whose hope is gone. Your donation of $50, $100, $500,or any amount will help us continue meeting needs.

Thank you for caring!