The storm brought down countless trees and left nearly 20,000 people without electricity. Felled trees, debris, and icy conditions made roads impassable, and many residents found themselves stranded without heat in sub-freezing temperatures.
Power was restored throughout the county within days, but people are still affected by the aftermath of the storm while coping with frigid temperatures. Another round of severe weather put a deep freeze over Watauga and neighboring counties, with wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour and single-digit temperatures.
Despite the harsh weather conditions, dozens of volunteers from Samaritan’s Purse responded to the call for help. Crews are working long days to cut and remove fallen trees, clear debris, make emergency repairs on damaged houses, and minister to families who didn’t know where to turn for help.
Chaplains from the Rapid Response Team are working alongside the SP volunteers.
Following are several stories from chaplains serving in the field:
Healing Old Pain: We arrived around noon in the frozen 12 degree mountains of Boone where the wind is blowing the snow sideways. We now understand how hard it is on the people physically and emotionally that are without power. The several homeowners we saw were so grateful for the visit and just couldn’t believe people cared enough to come out in this kind of weather just to visit and pray with them.
The chaplains visited the elderly uncle of a Samaritan’s Purse staff member whose wife has cancer. When we arrived he was very distraught and told them his wife had been taken to the hospital late last night and he had just found out she had kidney poison and pneumonia.
After spending some time with him and praying, they went to the hospital. She was doing much better and couldn’t believe they came to see her. She began to weep as she told of how her only child, a son died at the age of 10, which was 35 years ago.
She needed to share this pain that had been inside her all these years. The chaplains felt that being there for this precious lady at a time like this was truly a divine appointment.
As in most cases, these people had issues before the storm and we are seeing so many elderly that have health problems, mostly with cancer. Again we feel God has opened the door for the chaplains to cease the moment of opportunity to witness His love to those that are hurting and need the hope of Christ and a flicker of encouragement.
A Lonely Widow: Today we saw mostly elderly widows today who either had cancer themselves or had children with cancer. It seems the Lord allowed this ice storm to hit just to have us visit with those that are lonely and need someone to hold them while they cry.
Margaret, a 78-year-old widow we visited, lived at the top of the mountain. This dear saint was hurting and very lonely. She said her husband died a few years ago, her best friend passed away and her funeral is tomorrow, and one of her sons had taken money from her in a real time of need. She didn’t want us to leave and said she knew the Lord had sent us to see her today.
We feel so strongly that the Lord sent us here to encourage these people with prayers, Bibles and the love of Christ.