The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team deployed Wednesday to the Detroit, Michigan, area where thousands of homeowners are dealing with the aftermath of record-breaking floods.
Chaplain coordinators and Michigan residents Bob and Judy Teft will be the first to arrive in Royal Oak, about 15 miles north of Detroit.
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They’ll be joined initially by four other crisis-trained Rapid Response Team (RRT) chaplains including Al and Toni New.
“I’m from Detroit, so we’ve got a lot of family members and friends in the Detroit vicinity,” said Al New, manager of deployments and operations for the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team.
The team is based in Charlotte, N.C., but includes a network of more than 1,700 chaplains across the country. Each chaplain is trained to respond to the emotional and spiritual needs of people who have experienced trauma, whether from natural disasters like flooding or man-made crises such as mass shootings.
Oakland County, Michigan, is the 14th Rapid Response Team deployment in the U.S. this year. On August 11, heavy downfalls led to several days of severe flooding in the Metro Detroit region. An elderly woman drowned. Dozens of others had to be rescued from the rising water, and more than 1,000 cars were abandoned.
Now that the water has receded, residents are assessing the damage and trying to dry out flooded homes and businesses. Streets are lined with ruined furniture and other belongings destined for a landfill.
“We’ll just be going into the residential area and just coming alongside the homeowners and praying for them to get through,” Al New said. “They’ve lost material things, and it still hurts because they’ve lost some precious stuff, probably some really personal stuff.”
The chaplains also plan to reach out to residents who did not have flood insurance.
“Especially in areas not prone to flooding, these homeowners usually don’t have flood insurance, and that’s very stressful on them,” Al New said. “What we find is most do not have flood insurance because they never expect to be flooded.”
The Rapid Response Team will work alongside international disaster relief ministry Samaritan’s Purse, which is sending scores of volunteers to help homeowners remove mud, dry out basements, recover belongings and just offer a helping hand wherever needed.
“We know the people of Michigan, and we have a lot of people there we love,” Toni New said. “And so I pray that we can show them that Jesus loves them, and He loves Detroit, and that we can make a difference in their lives during this time we’re there.”