Hoping to help in some way to one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Florence, a contingent of 12 people from Hillsville Pentecostal Holiness Church came away from a recent mission trip to Morehead City with a new perspective on life.
Pastor Jeff Pickett and 11 others from the church traveled to Morehead City, N.C. to help clean up in the aftermath of the hurricane on Sept. 26 and 27. Described as the worst storm to hit the port town in 72 years, Morehead City was victim to 30 inches of rain and winds of 100 miles per hour. The damage was catastrophic for the town of 8,600.
Al and Debbie Justice attend Hillsville Pentecostal Holiness Church, but they also live in Morehead City, where they attend Glad Tidings Church. Pickett said that one church had 35 families lose their home because of Hurricane Florence. But despite the devastation there, the Hillsville P.H. Church crew was amazed at the attitude and optimism they witnessed from the people of Morehead City.
“When you begin to see the brokenness of losing everything you’ve got and yet still looking at things like it is going to be okay, that was the mentality we got from most of the people,” Pickett said. “I never ran across anybody that was just down and out. It humbled me to realize that what little we did, they were so appreciative. They just kept on going about how thankful they were we came and the difference we made in their lives and we would never know how much they appreciate it. So when they say that about us and our crew that’s speaks to everybody in the community that gave, prayed in any way, that helped.”
Pickett was joined on the mission trip by Matthew Simone, Mayo Higgs, Doug Goad, Heath Wright, Brandon Priest, Paul Burcham, Jeff Pickett, Shannon Smith, Terry Davis, Jessie Shuman, Bobby Dalton and Richard Bailey. The damage they saw was unimaginable for most. Brush piles, loads of sheetrock and ruined furniture were piled along the streets as tall as most homes everywhere you looked. The high winds blew shingles off many houses, causing many homes to flood and be ruined by the ensuing 30 inches of rain. Sidewalks were busted up as trees were completely uprooted. Cars were totaled by down trees. The list goes on and on.
Hillsville P.H. Church members did their best to help clean out homes – removing ruined furniture, carpet and insulation. They helped cut trees and clean brush. They even brought two tractor-trailer loads of relief items, including water, blankets, baby wipes, and tarps (to help cover the roofs of homes). Surprisingly, and despite the tragic circumstances they were dealing with, the citizens of Morehead City were just as eager to help the Hillsville crew.
“There was one lady there, Mary Ellen Rose, who lost her house and her car. She was at Glad Tidings Church serving us,” Pickett said. “And that is pretty powerful that she would take time to do that, and all that she would say is, ‘I am still here.’ So she wasn’t worried about the material things but she was worried about serving others. That was powerful.”
Pickett had high praise for Doug Goud and his wife, Candy, who he said made the mission trip to Morehead City happen. He also wanted to thank everyone from Carroll County who lent a hand in the relief effort.
“I appreciate all of our businesses, the community, the people, the churches that gave that made this possible. I just want to thank everybody, we have got an awesome community and awesome churches and we just thank the Lord for them,” Pickett said. “Doug is a Deacon in of church and his heart, the heart of our people, just seeing devastation and wanting to help, it speaks volumes.”
Pickett said church member Richard Bailey also has a big heart for people in need as he helped spearhead a similar effort to send relief to flood victims in West Virginia in years past. A trip to Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey was also planned, but never materialized.
“It is not to point out the Hillsville Pentecostal Church here, but it is to point out the body of Christ in our community and through our world that when we join together we can make a difference in people’s lives. I just thank God for a heart like Doug Goad and Richard Bailey to go out and put together this team,” Pickett said. “I want people to know the Hillsville Pentecostal Holiness Church is not just a church, it is a place for the community and a place we can outreach and minister to people that are broken and hurting. That is why I would like everybody to know that they can send any donations or money if they would like to support Morehead City to Glad Tidings Church, 4621 Country Club Road, Morehead City, N.C., 28557, Attention Pastor Tim Mariner. Anything people can send to them would be very appreciated.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN