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A worker loads boxes bound for Florida at Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort in Nashville, Tenn.
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Photo by Ted Parks

After Ian, ‘all the help is flooding our way’

Church of Christ in Florida serves as a relief hub — five years after it sheltered its community from a previous hurricane.

Once again, the Gulf Coast Church of Christ is serving as a relief hub after a major hurricane pounded Florida.

The 600-member congregation, which meets east of the Caloosahatchee River in Fort Myers, avoided the worst of Hurricane Ian as it made landfall Sept. 28 near Cape Coral.

“It was like ocean waves on a usually placid river,” Gulf Coast church member Delina Caldwell told The Christian Chronicle, not long after phone service was restored.

9550 Ben C Pratt Parkway, Fort Myers, FL 33966, USA

It was déjà vu for Caldwell and her husband, associate minister Steve Caldwell. Five years ago their church building served as a refuge for dozens of Floridians as Hurricane Irma pounded the Gulf Coast.

The Caldwells have lived like nomads for the past few days, searching for places to get a warm shower and to charge their cell phones.

Now, as power (and, thankfully, air conditioning) return to more of Fort Myers, the church is distributing aid provided by Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort. City officials estimate that as many as 150,000 homes are uninhabitable.

A worker loads boxes bound for Florida at Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort in Nashville, Tenn.

A worker loads boxes bound for Florida at Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort in Nashville, Tenn.

Church members have distributed two semi trucks full of food and cleaning supplies from the Nashville, Tenn.-based ministry. Delina Caldwell said she’s heard from churches across the region — plus California and South Korea — offering assistance.

As the storm’s flood waters subside, “all the help is flooding our way,” she said.

At least 68 people have died in the U.S. and Cuba as a result of Ian, which cut across Florida before it entered the Atlantic Ocean and slammed into coastal South Carolina. As millions of people across the South assess the storm’s damage, disaster relief groups associated with Churches of Christ are moving in to help:

• Ohio-based Churches of Christ Disaster Response Team is working with the Gulf Coast congregation. The ministry plans to bring supplies including a shower trailer and laundry trailer. The ministry plans to host relief teams in Fort Myers soon.

• Texas-based Disaster Assistance CoC is working with the Port Charlotte Church of Christ, north of Fort Myers. Workers with the ministry have brought in relief supplies are distributing them to the community.

• Alabama-based Project Unify is working with the Cape Coral Church of Christ and partnering with Churches of Christ Disaster Relief. “We also are sending our cook trailer with a team to run it,” the ministry posted to social media. “It’s exciting to see so many parts of the body of Christ working together to serve others.”

• Louisiana-based One Kingdom is assessing needs and “will move into relief response as soon as possible” the ministry posted to social media.

Filed under: Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort disaster assistance Florida helping hurricane victims Hurricane Hurricane Ian National Top Stories

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