by Joel King, Regional Disaster Response Coordinator; Deacon, Lake Sherwood OPC, Orlando, Florida (September 23, 2017)
Two weeks ago, Hurricane Irma made her way into the Florida Keys, then turned northward and tracked right through the peninsula of Florida. Irma made history, more than doubling the number of days that any storm has maintained that level of intensity while in the Atlantic. Irma was also estimated to be over 400 miles wide at the time it hit Florida.
Now, a few weeks later, we certainly consider that God has blessed our OP churches, protecting them by His hand through this terrible storm. We are aware of no casualties or significant injuries to any OPC members across the state, and have found only a few instances of major damage to our OPC churches or the residences of our members.
Keys OPC and Pastor’s Home:
Keys OPC was apparently directly in the eye of the storm. A neighbor of Bill Welzein’s who did not evacuate reported two hours of beautiful, calm weather as the eye passed over their area. In the Lord’s providence, this reduced the amount of damage to the Welzein home and the church facility. We are thankful to report that power and water have been restored to the church. The Welzein home also has water, but is still running on a generator. However, there is still some rebuilding to be done.
While many of the most critical repairs (to water lines and the electrical mast) have been completed, the entire area has sustained widespread damage. The debris that is scattered everywhere is overwhelming to see. The sheer volume of the debris is substantial, as most trees across the Keys are either down or stripped bare. There is much work to be done in the community.
Now that the church facility has been restored to relative order, we are ready to receive volunteer teams to help with the work.
We have an immediate need for:
- workers who can wield a chainsaw well
- laborers to clean up branches and other scattered debris
Additionally, vinyl siding that was stripped away from Pastor Bill’s house needs to be replaced, so there is a particular need for:
- skilled laborers who have experience working with concrete fiberboard (hardiboard) siding, scaffolding, and ladders
The church facility has three bedrooms with four beds in each room, so that teams of up to twelve can be housed right on the church property. There is a full kitchen, but teams would need to provide and prepare their own food.
Please pray for the workers and the restoration efforts. Pray that we would meet with hearts that are softened and receptive in light of these events. We are zealous to be a light in the community during a seemingly dark and challenging time.
If you are able to assist with these labors, please contact IrmaVolunteers@opc.org for further information. Thank you!