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Hurricane Ian Response: Community First

Despite suffering losses due to Hurricane Ian, the congregation of Skyline Church in Cape Coral, Florida, is looking to the needs of their community first.
Michael Carter, lead pastor of Skyline Church in Cape Coral, Florida, which was one of three AG churches that suffered damage from Hurricane Ian late last month, says that so far about a dozen work teams have already come to the church and 20 truckloads of relief supplies, including from Convoy of Hope, have been delivered.

The Skyline Church building suffered damage to its roof, air conditioning system, tile, and some minor flood/water damage on the interior along with damage to its playground, fencing, and overhang.

However, despite having multiple teams arrive, Carter says that repairs have not begun yet — by design.

“There have been so many churches that have reached out to us,” Carter says. “AG churches such as Glad Tidings in Orlando, River of Life in Estero, Pinellas Community Church, New Life Church in Lehigh Acres, Spark Church of Wesley Chapel, and others along with local churches, including non-AG churches, have come together to love on our community.”

Carter explains that they’ve partnered with multiple churches and organizations to provide 55,000 meals, distribute 46 generators, 250 gallons of gas, 38 air conditioning units, numerous fans, and other relief goods to the community.

Chainsaw and debris removal teams from Glad Tidings and other churches have cleaned up dozens of properties, and Skyline Church joined in with organizations to provide an information center for hurricane survivors to help them know what they should do and who they needed to contact, including information about: food, debris removal, home repair, vehicle repair, building permits, mental health services, internet services, and much more.

“We loved hard on our community and smaller villages of displaced people . . ., we haven’t started on our place yet, but we’ll get there,” Carter says.

And as recovery is now starting to move toward rebuilding, Carter was excited to share that an AG connection is sending a semi load of drywall to the church this week. Although possibly not something most people would be excited about, following a flooding event, drywall is typically extremely difficult to find in quantity due to its necessity in repairing or rebuilding homes and businesses.

Although the church building survived relatively intact, Carter says five church families lost their homes completely. The church, which sees 280 in attendance on a weekly basis, has stepped up to help the families find places to stay.

However, the mindset of the Skyline Church body may be best characterized by a member named Eddie. The hurricane destroyed his home, but instead of being paralyzed by his loss, Eddie got up every morning to run supplies out by boat to those in need on Pine Island as it was temporarily cut off from the mainland due to bridge damages.

“It’s beautiful to see the love of God being demonstrated in so many different ways,” Carter says. “The generosity, the compassion, and the harmony of so many different groups working together in a way that glorifies God is impacting thousands of lives for Christ.”

In addition to multiple ministries, regional and national, providing meals and relief for survivors, Convoy of Hope has made its presence felt to tens of thousands. According to its website, as of Oct. 18, Convoy, with the help of countless volunteers, had delivered and distributed 1.5 million pounds of food, water, and relief supplies, with aid continuing to arrive. By Oct. 21, teams had served more than 92,000 survivors.

As repair and rebuilding efforts are beginning, construction teams are encouraged to contact Peninsular Florida District Council Superintendent Terry Raburn at 863-683-5726, ext. 224.

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.