On Friday, September 14, 2018, Hurricane Florence made landfall in our hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina. Hurricane force winds battered everything in its path; the eye made landfall five miles away from the church. The strong winds lasted for nine hours. Then there was a break for three hours on Saturday. A gentle breeze and time to assess damages already made by the then tropical storm brought people out to breathe sighs of relief, and then that night the real danger began. Epic amounts of rain, and tropical storm force winds that came from the opposite side of the storm bashed into everything again. Water rose in the night in a flashflood, causing many people to evacuate. The creek rose at the church and, with the added rain, water rose to the step at the front of the church building. Water seeped into the parish house soaking the carpets and getting into the drywall. Branches fell from trees, and even whole trees were knocked over by the winds. Some tornadoes might have touched down in the area as well. The damage was shocking.

It is now Thursday, September 20, 2018, and work is fully underway. The flood waters have receded. Blue sky and sunshine have accompanied us since Monday. All power had been knocked out since Friday and some people still remain without power. Line men have been working around the clock to get the power back on. By Sunday, Duke Energy predicts, that all the power will be returned to its customers. The carpet from the church was ripped up and removed. All the items in the fellowship hall have been moved out, and the four inches of drywall and all wet insulation has been taken out of the walls to help prevent mold. With the power back on the wet wood has dried out and the lower level of the fellowship house has been sprayed to prevent the growth of mold.

A large branch had landed on the church roof and has been removed. The lawn care service has worked for four days clearing downed trees and debris from around the buildings and off the parking lot. Bishop David Haines, Lucy Haines, Ison Cates, and Roger Cando, have been the ones to orchestrate this major clean up. It’s been a lot of hard work, and there is still much to do, but our church has been very blessed as the damage could’ve been much worse. Services will resume this Sunday, 23 September.

The message is this, that the Lord will guide us through. He has given us hope, and, through the terrors of events outside our control, there is always hope. He is always there with a guiding hand to help us, and we must never forget it. Blessings to everyone still dealing with this catastrophe; it is over, and now we can put it all back together again. Thanks be to God.

The author is the daughter of the Rt. Rev. & Mrs. David Haines of Wilmington, North Carolina.

Pictures of some of the recovery work at All Saints Parish.