Rapid Response Team Deploys After Catastrophic Oregon Ice Storm

By   •   February 22, 2021

A worker clears the sidewalk of snow in Portland, Oregon, about 75 miles north of Marion County, after significant snowfall in the region. (Photo by Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa USA, via AP Images)

The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT) is serving weary residents in Marion County, Oregon, following an ice and snow storm that left many without power amid freezing temperatures.

“Pray for relief from this cold weather pattern across the country and for those who are suffering because of it,” Franklin Graham posted on Facebook last week from Dallas, Texas, an area also experiencing power outages and bitter temperatures.

Harsh winter storms have stretched across much of the United States the past couple of weeks—and more than 50 people have died in the frigid cold, mostly in Texas. These unusually severe storms have caused hundreds of thousands to lose electricity and left millions without clean water. Many have relied on generators and wood stoves for survival, some risking deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. In Marion County, the downed power lines are exceptionally damaged and have a long repair process, leaving some residents feeling hopeless or forgotten.

During the storm itself, which hit on February 12, Marion County residents were alarmed by the loud sound of branches snapping, trees falling and transformers blowing. In the days following, a steady buzz of chainsaws has kept locals busy clearing roadways and hauling debris. Inside some homes, it’s been a dangerous 40 degrees.

Chaplain coordinators Ray and Suzanne Thompson arrived in Marion County Wednesday with the Mobile Ministry Center, a vehicle used as a safe space for conversations. Four additional chaplains arrived Thursday, ready to offer a listening ear and prayer to those recovering from a difficult few weeks. They’ll partner with Samaritan’s Purse, a ministry that will help with the cleanup process.

“The amount of damage that an ice storm can do is catastrophic. Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones and suffered property damage,” said Josh Holland, BG-RRT’s assistant director. “We feel honored to be able to send crisis-trained chaplains to talk and pray with those who were impacted, and to share the love of Jesus Christ with that community.”

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