Because World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS) worked in this area after Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and Irene in 2011, there is a relationship between World Renew DRS and the local long-term disaster team headed up by the United Methodist Church.
When Hurricane Matthew hit North Carolina, representatives from the United Methodist Church contacted World Renew to see if it was possible to work together again. World Renew said yes and sent volunteers to help with clean up and weeklong mission trips to repair homes. Today, consistent reconstruction efforts are up and running in Tarboro and Princeville. We, John and Marguerite Ridder, were on the first team working at this long-term site.
As a World Renew DRS team, we were housed in Tarboro but most of the work was done in Princeville because the damage was greatest there. We found that Princeville is a town of with a rich history. It started as a town called Freedom Hill, and it was the first town established by freed slaves in 1865.
We helped Matthew survivors, Marjorie, Mary, and Nancy, rebuilding their gutted homes. After the hurricane hit last year, first responders removed the drywall, kitchen, bathrooms, furniture, and flooring, and left the homes bare to the studs. Our team was rebuilding, putting in drywall, flooring, the kitchen, bathrooms, electrical wiring, plumbing, and more.
When John and I, as construction supervisors, look at the skill list of the volunteers for a team, we try to place them in their field of expertise. Thus, someone with plumbing skills gets to do the plumbing, and someone with drywall taping skills gets to do that work. We are always amazed at how God provides the right people on a team with the skills we need. This time there were again people with all the skills we needed, and we were able to get much work done.
Marjorie, Mary, and Nancy have all been living in temporary housing or trailers since the hurricane. They all stopped by their homes almost daily to see what we were doing. It is wonderful to see the excitement on their faces as, one by one, the rooms get back to normal.
When we were able to meet with each of the three women, we heard their stories…of loss, of fear, of survival. In those moments, we often were able to not only listen but also share God’s love in a hug, a word of comfort, or a prayer.
After three weeks of working, it was hard for us to leave. We did not quite get finished with the work, and we just started to get to know the people. However, we also know that when we leave, a new team from World Renew DRS will follow us the next week, and they would put in the same effort, hard work, and love to get the homes ready for the owners. We know that Marjorie, Mary, and Nancy will be living in their homes again very soon. We pray that they were not only blessed by our work but also saw God’s love extended to them in that work.
John and Marguerite Ridder
John and Marguerite Ridder are from Ontario and have been volunteering with World Renew for 10 years.