Whether or not Hurricane Joaquin, labeled a Category 4 hurricane on Thursday afternoon and classified as “extremely dangerous,” hits the Eastern seaboard of the United States this weekend remains to be seen. But should it make contact with the East Coast, relief organization Samaritan’s Purse is ready to step in.
While meteorologists track the hurricane’s every move (most recently suggesting it will stay well offshore)—and the White House enters disaster preparation mode—Tim Haas, manager of U.S. Disaster Relief for Samaritan’s Purse, is hard at work.
“Our Samaritan’s Purse disaster relief experts are monitoring the heavy rains and the potential impact that Hurricane Joaquin may have on the East Coast,” Haas said in a statement to The Daily Signal.
Samaritan’s Purse, a non-denominational evangelical Christian organization, is poised to quickly respond in disaster situations, like Hurricane Joaquin, in the United States and around the world. They offer emergency relief in over 100 countries.
“We stand ready to deploy at a moment’s notice to help storm victims recover,” Haas continued.
When Hurricane Sandy, the deadliest hurricane to hit the northeastern part of the United States in 40 years, hit in 2012, Samaritan’s Purse responded within hours.
“We began bringing physical help and spiritual comfort to homeowners affected by the hurricane out of our bases in New Jersey and New York. We have worked on over 1,000 homes,” reads a statement on their website of their efforts after Sandy.
The organization was founded in 1970 and is headed by Franklin Graham, son of famous evangelist Billy Graham. The organization has headquarters in Boone, North Carolina.
Offering physical and spiritual aid, the organization is known for its yearly “Operation Christmas Child” gifts distributed to needy children in more than 130 countries, emergency medical care given in response to crisis situations, and ability to quickly source volunteers.
Over the past 17 years, 83,000 volunteers have provided U.S. disaster relief alongside Samaritan’s Purse staff, helping more than 28,000 families affected by natural disasters in the United States. Those disasters have ranged from ice storms and tornadoes to wildfires and hurricanes in the United States, as well as wars and famines abroad.
In disaster situations such as a hurricane, teams help provide emergency supplies, clean up disaster sites, and repair and rebuild homes. They have five tractor-trailers, called disaster relief units, stocked with tools and supplies and ready to be deployed to disaster scenes.
“The greatest advance that America could make in preparing for catastrophic disasters is to build better individual-based programs, a culture of preparedness, and resilient and self-reliant communities,” The Heritage Foundation Vice Presidents James Carafano and Jennifer Marshall wrote in a research paper entitled “Grassroots Disaster Response: Harnessing the Capacity of Communities.”
Samaritan’s Purse also partners with local churches in affected communities to arrange housing for volunteers and staff during relief efforts. These volunteers often stay at a disaster site after the initial response has left.
“The survivors of a major disaster require immediate, personal relief,” Carafano’s and Marshall’s research concludes. “The government is simply not equipped to provide for all of these needs—especially survivors’ spiritual needs—but by partnering with faith-based and community groups before a disaster, government (local, state, and federal) can help survivors receive a higher quality of immediate attention and guarantee long-term support.”