Helping Tornado Victims

Samaritan’s Purse has deployed staff and equipment in four of the hardest hit counties in North Carolina, helping victims of the deadliest spring storms in the state in two decades.

Trained emergency workers are in Bertie, Cumberland, Lee, and Wake Counties, assessing the damage and determining how we can best help. Samaritan’s Purse also dispatched three Disaster Relief Units loaded with emergency supplies and equipment. Each can be set up as an emergency command post to enable volunteer crews to work in the midst of a disaster zone.

We are asking for volunteers to help clean up debris, make emergency repairs on houses, and minister to the victims in the Name of Jesus Christ. To serve with Samaritan’s Purse, go to our volunteer network website.

Luther Harrison, Director of North American Projects, is leading the team in Bertie County. He is seeing incredible scenes of devastation and destruction in the county that saw 11 of the 22 deaths that have been reported throughout the state.

“When you see two people picking up debris in a yard where you cannot even recognize there was a home, but in the middle of some rubble is a motorized wheelchair and the owner had been found deceased in a ditch, how can you not have pity on them and want to reach out and help them?” he said. “Everyone we meet shares their experience.”

The Samaritan’s Purse international headquarters is located in the western part of the state, about 200 miles from the affected area.

“We work all over the world responding to disasters but sometimes some of the most difficult places are within a few miles of home,” said Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham. “Our prayers go out to the families who lost loved ones and those affected by the storm. We’ll be doing all we can to help.”

With seven counties devastated and tens of millions of dollars in damage, Gov. Beverly Perdue declared a state of emergency, an order that permits large supply and utility trucks to enter the state and help in the rescue and cleanup.

The North Carolina Division of Emergency Management on Sunday reported 22 people were killed and 80 were injured by the storms in Bertie, Bladen, Cumberland, Harnett, Lee, and Wake counties. According to news reports, a series of violent tornadoes roared through the city of Raleigh and across the heart of North Carolina Saturday afternoon and evening. The storms leveled or damaged hundreds of homes, demolished a trailer park, plucked trees out of the earth, and left more than 84,000 people without power.

North Carolina normally gets about 19 tornadoes a year, according to the National Climatic Data Center. This storm spun off at least 62 tornadoes Saturday night.

The tornadoes were part of a storm system that first struck Oklahoma Thursday night and then swept through Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia, killing at least 45 people before heading out to sea.

“When the storm count is finalized, this will likely be an historic tornado outbreak,” said CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras. “It is quite unusual to have this many supercell tornadoes of this intensity strike the area.”

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