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Compelling Story: Disaster Survivor to Disaster Responder

Hurricane Irma Response, 2017

A brother and sister worked tirelessly to begin the muck out process of their elderly parents’ home in Jacksonville, Florida, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.  Years earlier, with many floods under his belt, their father decided that they needed to raise the home to keep it safe.  With it now being elevated 16 feet, the idea of flood waters reaching the house was not even a thought in their minds.  These rains were different, and when the creek rose this time, it went all the way up to the floor joists.  When the brother needed to return to work, the sister, Laura, continued to clean — having a few extra days available to take off work.  It wasn’t long before she was overwhelmed, and when someone offered her a card with a number on it, she dialed the number.  The very next day, she was met by a team of disaster responders from Hope Force International who immediately began assisting her in mucking out her parents' home.

She shared: “I remember one responder immediately climbed a ladder and began pulling soaked insulation and drywall off the ceiling of the garage to access the floor joists of the house.  He was covered in debris, dirty water, and soggy insulation.”  That responder was HFI Reservist, George Camp, from Pennsylvania.  George has been on numerous deployments and like all our HFI Reservists, has provided compassion in action while tackling some of the toughest, and sometimes grossest, jobs.  This demonstration of providing hope amidst disaster prompted something in Laura. “When I retire in a few years, I’m going to find this organization and join them in order to help others the way they helped me!

The Shawnee, Oklahoma tornado that struck a couple weeks ago was met with a team of HFI Reservists who were on the ground within hours of the storm.  On that team was a recently retired Jacksonville resident, who just happened to have completed her online training a few weeks prior.  Laura, once served by HFI Reservists during the disaster mentioned above, was now on the ground for her first deployment with Hope Force!  She wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, but within just a few minutes of her arrival, she was up on the roof, learning firsthand the techniques of tarp application.  It didn’t take long before she felt like a part of the family — even to the point that during devotion time one morning, she shared her testimony with the group.  One of the listeners shared that it was the best part of the day — seeing how God had provided for someone who had been through so much...and now here she was providing for others in the way Hope Force served her six years ago!

Laura is not alone; there are several other HFI Reservists who have been through a disaster -- and as a result, have become disaster responders.  All have a story that led them to where they are today in providing hope for those impacted by disasters.  The reality is that each and every one of our Reservists are a part of our ranks because of something that challenged them to take the step forward and become trained to provide hope in action.  Maybe there is a prompting in your own life to provide this kind of hope to others.  Would you be willing to take that first step and explore our online training?  Would you consider joining the Hope Force family and provide the hope that will change a person’s life?