2023 Impact IR

Hurricane Idalia Response – Valdosta, Georgia

By January 8, 2024No Comments

Hurricane Idalia made landfall on the coast of Florida’s Big Bend the morning of Wednesday, August 30. The storm was rated as a Category 3 hurricane upon landfall, carrying on to impact Florida, Georgia, South Carolina – and producing flooding throughout North Carolina – before the system made an exit back into the Atlantic Ocean.

As Idalia approached landfall, God’s Pit Crew carefully studied the projected paths and kept continuous contact with partners and officials in the areas that were predicted to receive damage. Once the storm chose its path of destruction, and after discussion with contacts in southern Georgia, God’s Pit Crew was led to deploy to the small town of Valdosta. The beautiful, historic town is filled with century-old trees that drape massively over the streets and homes of the area. However, the strong winds brought by Hurricane Idalia turned those picturesque trees into vicious weapons crashing through homes, businesses, and power lines.

The ministry of God’s Pit Crew is blessed to be able to meet and assist people from all walks of life when responding to these disaster situations. While onsite in Valdosta, team members met Patricia whose house had a giant tree leaning over it. The tree had been uprooted during the storm and was causing a stressful situation because it threatened to fall on Patricia’s house at any time – and to make matters worse, the tree was much too close to nearby power lines posing an even greater threat. She heard the crew explaining that the tree could not be removed under these circumstances, and Patricia began to weep. What was she supposed to do with such a danger hanging over her house and threatening to ruin everything she owned?

While God’s Pit Crew’s Immediate Response Coordinator, Chris Chiles, continued to try to find a way to remove the giant hazard, Patricia took to calling the power company in hopes of getting the electricity momentarily turned off so that the crews could remove the tree. Patricia had a heart wrenching back and forth exchange with the power company, and took to praying three different times that her request would be heard and fulfilled. “They called me back,” explained Patricia. “I didn’t call them.” The company ultimately agreed that they would turn the electricity off long enough for God’s Pit Crew to remove the tree. Patricia was so relieved that the next time she saw the group of volunteers, she met them on her front porch and began serenading them with a hymn, “He performs miracles just like He said he would. My God is amazing,” she sang. “And He sent some amazing people to me!” Patricia knew that God had provided a miracle for her through the work of God’s Pit Crew.

Across town, another group was praying for a miracle themselves after sustaining thousands of dollars’ worth of tree damage during the storm. The Mailbox Club, headquartered in Valdosta, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to win the children and young people of the world to Christ and help nurture them into spiritual maturity through Bible courses. This ministry writes and publishes their own Bible study books – which are translated into over 100 languages – and then distributes them to a total of 91 countries. The Mailbox Club has contributed to nearly six million salvation decisions in which children came to know and love Jesus!

Hurricane Idalia unfortunately brought massive trees down on top of the ministry’s headquarters as well as strewn across their property. “Groups came into the area and helped with the initial clean up and essential tasks that allowed people to begin to maneuver and function again,” told Shelly Shiver, assistant ministry development for The Mailbox Club. “As those groups moved out, though, it was still so dangerous. A ton of gigantic trees had been brought down. How are you going to get rid of that?”

Volunteers with God’s Pit Crew that had traveled from various states across the nation were able to come together and visit The Mailbox Club’s property and begin removing the leftover trees that still plagued them. “I don’t know what we would’ve done without your Crew,” continued Shelly. “We love God’s Pit Crew. They exude Christ.”

God’s Pit Crew’s deployment to Valdosta, Georgia, wrapped up the first week of October. During their time responding, nearly 86 God’s Pit Crew volunteers from all over the country provided hope and restoration to 200 families by removing trees, tarping roofs, and mucking out homes devastated by rain – while also ministering to and praying over people. Many who had lost all hope until volunteers in red shirts came and helped – acting just as the hands and feet of Jesus.