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Compassion in Action as Major Flooding Continues in Carolinas

North Carolina's record flooding impacts numerous AG churches, while South Carolina braces for flood waters that are headed its way.

Assemblies of God churches are teaming with compassion organizations, including Convoy of Hope as well as other relief entities, to assist Hurricane Florence victims, but the road to recovery will be long and strenuous as many homes and businesses remain flooded or are heavily damaged and many roads remain closed due to flooding or sections being washed out caused by the rains and tidal surges of the hurricane. Meanwhile, residents of South Carolina brace for what is expected to be record flooding later this week as rivers are predicted to crest beginning as early as Tuesday and continue into the weekend.

John Watford is the pastor of Cornerstone in New Bern and is the North Carolina AG Disaster Relief coordinator. He knows a thing or two about flooding, having spent 20 years as a pastor in New Orleans. He says that so far they are aware of 10 to 12 AG churches that have experienced some level of damage due to the hurricane.

“The number is not complete,” Wotford says. “[As of Friday] we had 1,000 roads in North Carolina that were flooded or closed — Interstate 95 was closed for 100 miles as it had four feet of water over it.”

To put the flooding into perspective, Wotford says New Bern is located where two rivers (the Trent and Neuse rivers) conjoin and they had a 14-foot tidal surge push up from the ocean. “We had people being rescued from the second stories in downtown New Bern,” he says. “More than 4,200 buildings were damaged or destroyed in New Bern alone.”

AG churches throughout the area are responding to victims’ needs, teaming with other churches and agencies to provide food, shelter, medical attention, clean-up assistance, and whatever else may be needed. Wotford notes that Convoy of Hope has been working “tirelessly.”

According to a Convoy of Hope news release, the compassion organization has already distributed more than 643,000 pounds of relief supplies, served nearly 30,000 individuals, mobilized more than 850 volunteers, partnered with 16 churches and partner organizations, and has begun a clean-up campaign to help remove trees and storm debris from properties.

Wotford says that of the North Carolina churches reporting damage from the hurricane, about a half-dozen have four to seven feet of water in them.

“The rivers in many areas are supposed to crest today,” Wotford says. “That means it likely won’t be until sometime next week before they’ll go down enough for all our pastors to get to their churches to look them over for damage.”

Although the difficulties ahead are challenging, Wotford says that the body of Christ has been very evident. AG churches from across the country have sent funds, teams, and their prayers.

The North Carolina churches that have reported damage include: Your Day of Deliverance Ministries, Chocowinity; Bethel House of Worship, Laurinburg; Lighthouse AG, Havelock; Word of Life AG, Laurinburg; The Imprint Church, Wallace; Open Arms AG, Shannon; Cornerstone AG, New Bern; Abundant Life AG, Whiteville; Agape House of Worship, Whiteville; First AG, Belhaven; 828 Church, Wilmington; and The Potter’s House AG, Lumberton.

At this point, only one church in South Carolina has reported damage: First AG in Loris. However, according to Ed Nelson, secretary/treasurer of the South Carolina district, record flooding is expected to hit the coastal areas throughout this week — especially the Georgetown area — as record rainfall in North Carolina drains through the river systems into South Carolina.

Those interested helping with the North Carolina disaster relief efforts, including volunteering, can contact Wotford through the Cornerstone website.

Dan Van Veen

Dan Van Veen is news editor of AG News. Prior to transitioning to AG News in 2001, Van Veen served as managing editor of AG U.S. Missions American Horizon magazine for five years. He attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, where he and his wife, Lori, teach preschool Sunday School and 4- and 5-year-old Rainbows boys and girls on Wednesdays.