Miami’s record flood event is not the worst disaster that he has ever seen — little compares to the devistation left behind when Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast in 2005.
However, Lin Honeycutt said the heartache felt by Miami’s flood victims is no less painful.
“This is the most devistating thing these people may have ever experienced in their entire lives,” Honeycutt said. “This flood in Miami … it is small in comparison. But the heartache, pain and suffering is just as great as in Katrina. Heartbreak is heartbreak.”
As the 20-year veteran of the North Carolina Baptist Men’s Disaster Relief team sat in a quiet room of the First Christian Church, he talked about why he and about 75 other North Carolina volunteers drove 1,200 miles to freely offer disaster recovery — a job he said is physically demanding and emotionaly draining.
“It is a ministry,” he said. “No other ministry opportunity puts you right in the home and working side-by-side with a victim.”
Honeycutt, a regional coordinator and recognized by the organization as a “blue hat” was visibly tired Friday, but kept his cell phone close to his ear as he directed recovery teams.
Within hours of arriving in Miami, teams were working in a handfull of local homes where they cleared the structures of debris, ripped out walls, removed insulation, and then power-washed and sanitized everything that remained.
All the while, Honeycutt is trying to round up more work.
The goal of the group is to help victims through the initial cleanup and leave the property owner with at least three things — a new Bible, a homesite that is ready for the rebuilding phase and, most importantly, “hope,” Honeycutt said.
“It is an emotional experience, each and every time,” Honeycutt said.
The encounter with disaster victims begins with prayer and typically ends with heartfelt appreciation — from both sides.
“We bring home with us much more than what we came with,” Honeycutt said. “We bring a blessing — but we leave with a blessing, too.”
The team rolled in this week with three trailers, each loaded with everything they need to do the job at hand.
The group’s resources are deep and their support base is wide.
“God has been good,” Honeycutt said. “If we don’t have it, we can get it.”
The biggest tool at their fingertips is God and His many miracles, according to Honeycutt, who said that he has seen the hand of God weave willing spirits into a masterful relief plan that never ceases to amaze him.
The work is dirty, smelly and exhausting, but rewarding, according to Honeycutt, and many deserve recognition.
“We can’t do what we do without the Southern Baptist Convention,” Honeycutt said. “And, I can’t say enough about the Baptist State Convention of Oklahoma and the First Christian Church — they just opened their arms and said ‘come on in.’”
Appreciation of the Oklahoma Baptists and the many agencies involved in the relief efforts echoed through the ranks of the North Carolina volunteers.
“I can’t say enough good things,” Honeycutt said. “They have been fantastic.”
The North Carolina volunteers will rotate in and out of Miami until their work is no longer needed.
“This organization is impressive,” said Miami Mayor Brent Brassfield. “I am amazed at what they do and am honored to have these volunteers.”
“This flood is a bad thing for Miami,” Honeycutt said. “I hurt with the people. But, when this is all over, Miami will be a better place. You will be stronger.”
For more information on the North Carolina Baptist Men Disaster Relief effort or to request assistance, call 541-4251.