Editor's Note: Caleb Yarbrough, media specialist for the Arkansas Baptist News, is working alongside Arkansas Baptist volunteers serving in New York in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. He is blogging his experiences as the team travels to the Empire State to help those in need.
DEER PARK, N.Y. – For the first two days we were in New York I worked alongside other Southern Baptist volunteers from Arkansas, Kansas, New York and Mississippi. However, today (Monday) I got the chance to go out with a Red Cross emergency vehicle and see the devastation of Sandy firsthand.
The Red Cross volunteers that I went out with were a married couple from Phoenix, Arizona. The husband, Mike, ironically was originally from Pickett, Arkansas. One of the disaster relief volunteers from Kansas, Nathan, also went along for the ride.
For Nathan and I it was the first time we were able to see the devastation of Sandy up close. After delivering hot meals to a community center, the Red Cross volunteers drove us around and showed us some of the areas of Long Island that the storm hit the worst.
We were shocked by what we saw.
While the flooding had subsided – for the most part – the streets were full of debris, trash and with sand that was left after the floodwater cleared up. Many cars and trucks sat misplaced wherever the flood carried them; most completely ruined by salt water.
The National Guard was patrolling in some areas in an attempt to combat looters and other possible criminal activities that a massive disaster might bring about.
At one point we drove through an area of marshland that was sparsely populated. We could see a line of homes off in the distance across the expanse. The homes is the distance appeared to be spared from the wrath of storm, however, in one of the most striking examples of the power of Sandy, one home either floated or was pushed out hundreds of yards from those others and was stuck in the middle of the marsh land.
Long Island was the area hardest hit by Sandy. It will be months, if not years, before the towns in the area are cleaned up and rebuilt and the communities there will never completely get back to normal.
After having a chance to go out and see the devastation caused by Sandy and the faces of those touched by the work with disaster relief volunteers was made much more vivid. If it were not for the many volunteers that I have worked with and got to know this week many people would be hungry tonight.
I have been a part of many different kinds of mission organizations over the years and served on many different trips, however, there is just something that touches the soul you are meeting people’s most basic physical needs. It shows that we Christians are for real, that we love people and want to do all we can to help them in Christ’s name.
I ask you to continue to pray for our group from Arkansas, as well as those from Kansas, Mississippi, and New York as well as those volunteering with the Red Cross. I would ask that you would pray for a quick recovery for the people of Long Island, but even more so pray that through our disaster relief efforts some would come to know Christ.
Arkansas Baptist News