Flooding from Hurricane Florence inundated the parking area of Myrtle Grove EPC in Wilmington, N.C., but by September 19 had not entered the church building.
As flooding from Hurricane Florence continues to affect the Carolinas, pastors of EPC churches in the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic continue to assess storm damage and prepare for further flooding from rain-swollen rivers.
At least 37 deaths in three states have been confirmed as a result of the storm, which dumped as much as three feet of rain in parts of North Carolina. More than 10,000 residents remain displaced.
Stacey Miller, Pastor of Myrtle Grove Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, N.C., reported via email on September 17 that the primary difficulty is that flooding has isolated Wilmington. The city of 120,000 is on the Atlantic coast in southeastern North Carolina, just north of the South Carolina border and was still mostly surrounded by floodwaters on September 19.
“Flood waters are blocking roads and highways in every direction,” Miller wrote. “As the inland creeks recede, the rivers are rising and are expected to crest at record levels. So it may be quite some time before routes are clear for people to be able to drive in and out of the city.”
He said about half of the church members and staff evacuated before the storm and are currently unable to return.
Flood waters covering Interstate 40 outside Wilmington, N.C.
“One of our elderly members is in ICU and her daughters can’t get to Wilmington to be with her,” he wrote. “In the community at-large, we have heard some sobering stories of total destruction of property, and flood damage with no flood insurance. Once all of our members return to Wilmington and assess their property, we may hear of other major losses within our own flock as well.”
Miller noted that he has been able to contact many church members, including some who stayed as well as some who evacuated before the storm hit.
“I know of two members who had trees come through the roof,” he wrote. “Otherwise, most have had trees down in yards, roof leaks, and other relatively minor issues. There have been few reports of major damage for our folks who stayed. As we have heard from members of our congregation, the prevailing theme is that God has been gracious to us.”
He said the church roof lost some shingles, resulting in some minor water damage. “Otherwise, there appears to be very minimal damage to our property,” he said.
Keith Cobb, Pastor of Hollywood Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Greenville, N.C., reported a “significant leak around our steeple, and water under several doors throughout the building. This, of course, is minimal in comparison to what is going on around us.” He noted that since the Tar River flows through Greenville, “we have every reason to suspect that we— like Goldsboro, Kinston, Tarboro, and Rocky Mount—will shortly have many opportunities to help flood victims in our community in the coming days and weeks.”
Flooding in Leland, N.C., a western suburb of Wilmington.
Greenville is in eastern North Carolina, approximately 120 miles north of Wilmington. The metro area has a population of approximately 175,000.
Kevin Cauley, Pastor of Darlington (S.C.) Presbyterian Church, said extensive flooding is hampering a full assessment.
“Everyone is waiting for flood waters subside to be able to assess damage and have a plan,” he said via email on September 19. “Unfortunately, there is more flooding expected over the next 24 hours.”
Darlington is in northeastern South Carolina, approximately 130 miles west of Wilmington, N.C.
Matt Walton, Pastor of Trinity Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Florence, S.C., said a tree fell through the roof of a church member’s house, and his sister’s home in Wilmington, N.C., suffered significant water damage.
Damage to Matt Walton’s sister’s home in Wilmington, N.C. Walton is Pastor of Trinity EPC in Florence, S.C.
“We will soon see our rivers swollen from water from North Carolina trickling down,” he added,” so pray that that will not cause flooding over the next few days.”
Walton noted that the church property emerged largely unscathed, though a break-in occurred during the storm and some items were stolen.
Florence, S.C., is about 10 miles southeast of Darlington and is home to approximately 40,000 people.
Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk, said donations to the EPC’s Hurricane Florence Emergency Relief Fund would be disbursed as quickly as possible.
“As we saw with the hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria last year—and the recent wildfires in California—when there is a need, our churches step up and demonstrate the sacrificial love of Christ. We will get those funds to where they are needed as soon as we can.”
In collaboration with the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic, donations to the fund will be sent to EPC churches affected by the storm. Click here to donate online (Choose “Emergency Relief” from the first pulldown menu and “Hurricane Florence Relief (283)” from the second pulldown menu,) or make check payable to Evangelical Presbyterian Church and designated “Hurricane Florence Relief,” and send to:
Evangelical Presbyterian Church
5850 T.G. Lee Blvd., Suite 510
Orlando, FL 32822
To help publicize the EPC’s Hurricane Florence Emergency Relief Fund, a bulletin insert is available for download in printable, pdf format at www.epc.org/emergencyrelief. The insert is designed to be printed on standard, 8.5×11 paper and cut in half vertically or horizontally.
Red flags mark EPC churches within 150 miles of Wrightsville Beach, N.C., where Hurricane Florence made landfall on September 14. Wrightsville Beach is 6 miles east of Wilmington, N.C.