Hope is rising from desperate situations left behind by Hurricane Idalia, thanks to volunteers with CBN’s Operation Blessing.
It’s been a little over a week since Idalia tore through Florida’s Gulf Coast, and then seemingly vanished from the news headlines as fast as the storm dissipated. Yet, outlasting the fading news cycle, dedicated volunteers with CBN’s Operation Blessing remain on the ground, helping families restore their lives and keep their eyes fixed on what God has for them in the future.
“We’re gutting their homes, moving their furniture,” said Leah Hanks, an OB volunteer. “Washing their wet clothes and linens – anything we can do to help them get through this tragedy.”
— Operation Blessing (@operationbless) September 5, 2023
The disaster relief teams have passed out food, water, and cleaning supplies to several cities in Florida and Georgia. They’ve also tackled household work orders along the coast – helping families like Tom and Dee Stokell.
“You’ve got to have instant love for a team like this,” said Stokell. “They’re welcome here anytime, disaster or not.”
As a retired shrimp fisherman who has lived in the same Florida home since 1979, hurricanes are nothing new to Tom. However, Idalia’s fury severely damaged their home and waterlogged years of memories, forcing Tom and Dee to pick and choose what stays and what goes.
“We’ll survive and we’re getting rid of a lot of stuff we didn’t really need,” Stokell said.
Volunteers like Crystal experienced firsthand how invaluable it is when someone shows up to help during another person’s darkest hour.
#OperationBlessing is on the ground in Homosassa, Florida, providing #disasterrelief to those in need! We are so thankful for our church partners and volunteers who stepped up to provide aid to those affected by Hurricane Idalia! https://t.co/hRNGWWRhzD. pic.twitter.com/Cbb9jh51eD
— Operation Blessing (@operationbless) September 2, 2023
“They needed someone to care, step forward, and let them know that God is still listening,” said Crystal Moore, an OB volunteer from Norman, Oklahoma. “Today changed him, today changed me.”
And although it can be hard to move on to focus on what God has in store for us in the future, sometimes a storm can show us what we need to leave behind from the past. And Idalia’s survivors are grateful that Operation Blessing has helped them move into those days ahead.
“Operation Blessing is one of the best, caring groups of humanity – something I haven’t encountered before,” said Stokell.
Linda described her small home along the water in #Florida as a paradise, but #Hurricane Idalia threatened to take that all away. We’re so thankful that friends like you are helping her get her life back! Praise God https://t.co/F8HFSYVdPi
— Operation Blessing (@operationbless) September 7, 2023