Yellow shirts a ‘blessing’ to residents
    June 9 2011 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

    As a young boy, Lin Honeycutt never imagined that he would one day be coordinating recovery efforts in the neighborhood where he was raised.

    “It’s been quite an experience,” Honeycutt said. “It’s been a big blessing to be able to help people I’ve known all my life.”

    He lives, works and goes to church in the same area where he grew up in south Raleigh and is the white hat coordinator for the North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM). NCBM set up its Raleigh headquarters at Carolina Pines Baptist Church on South Saunders Street, a hard-hit area of the capital city after an April 16 tornado carved a path through houses and businesses, streets and playgrounds.

    As of June 4, Honeycutt said Baptist Men and its volunteers had completed 575 chain saw jobs with at least 60 more to go. Honeycutt estimated that chain saw jobs will be complete within a couple of weeks and all volunteers will be redirected to restoring and rebuilding efforts.

    NCBM has agreed to adopt Stony Brook Mobile Home Park, which originally had 180 homes. Baptist Men will rebuild or restore 100 of the homes that were deemed salvageable.

    “We’re getting the families out of the shelters and back into their homes, said the Highland Baptist Church member.

    Because of the amount of devastation, he believes NCBM will be at Carolina Pines for at least four more months.

    BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle

    A team from Red Mountain Baptist Church in Rougemont works to cut and remove a tree in a south Raleigh yard. From left, Wally Watson, Eric Sanders, Bill Johnson and Jamie Gillie spend their Saturday on mission while another team from their church served at Samaritan’s Inn in Durham.

    Honeycutt, who has seen more than his fair share of disasters in his 22 years of volunteering with NCBM, compared the destruction to hurricanes — Katrina and Floyd.

    Recapping experience
    Honeycutt was in Winston-Salem April 16 at one of the Baptist Men’s regional training weekends. He was on his way home Saturday afternoon when he received a call redirecting him to Sanford where a home improvement store was demolished.

    He was 30 minutes from Sanford when he received a second call telling him to go home because a tornado was tearing across his area.

    “I kind of freaked out,” said Honey-cutt, who could not imagine a tornado hitting downtown. “I didn’t know what to expect.”

    After talking to his wife about what she was seeing, “I put it in high gear,” he said. Honeycutt drove to his business and unhooked a camper he had used at disaster relief training.

    “I couldn’t even get down the streets,” he said. “South Saunders was blocked off completely. There were no lights anywhere.”

    Compared to others, Honeycutt said the damage at his business was minimal — roof, ceiling and signage. By 10:30 p.m. Honeycutt was surveying the church with a flashlight to see if it would be suitable for responding to the disaster. With power out in south Raleigh, he said he got chills recounting how the lights at the church came on while inspecting it.

    “There were no lights anywhere else,” Honeycutt said. “The lights have not been off since then.” Honeycutt said it has been a blessing to serve in his hometown.

    “Not only were we able to help residents but we were able to help supporting churches,” he said. Chain saw teams were on site April 17, the day after storms ripped across the state. They worked to clear streets for two days. By April 18, NCBM was contacted by Red Cross to help with feeding people. The first meal served 45,000 out of the church’s parking lot.

    At one point, there were 12 sites operated by NCBM to help communities in need across North Carolina. The site in Fayetteville closed about two weeks ago, leaving Raleigh as the only site left open to help those in need. While the feeding has switched to the church’s kitchen to feed the volunteers, Honeycutt estimated 30-50 volunteers each day with as many as 150 on site at any one time.

    “We have been able to use local volunteers through the city and county … as many as 125” totaling about 250 on a recent Saturday, Honeycutt said.

    Because the city is known for its oak trees, Honeycutt said two out of three of the jobs needs heavy equipment. For the first time, NCBM had to purchase a 48-inch saw, and he said that some of the trees are still bigger than that saw’s range. Honeycutt said he had a bucket truck, cherry picker and excavator as well as six Bobcats operating out of the Raleigh site.

    He said 650 jobs is typical for a hurricane site but not a tornado. This recent disaster showed Honeycutt that “disaster can happen at your back door.”

    Preparedness is key, Honeycutt said.

    Volunteer crew
    Red Mountain Baptist Church in Rougemont sent a team of four down recently to help on a Saturday. Wally Watson, a member at the church, led three other men — Jamie Gillie, Eric Sanders and Bill Johnson — as they cut apart a large black walnut tree that had fallen in a yard in south Raleigh.

    Watson became Baptist Men coordinator five years ago at his church; they bought a trailer and have since had a total of 15 church members trained in some form of disaster recovery.

    He and some church members spent four days in Sanford in May doing similar work Anytime we get a phone call, Watson said he brings a request before the church.

    Teams have worked at Camp Duncan and Baptist Children’s Homes facilities as well as doing yard work for people in their community.

    “It’s really been special for me … in fact our church is starting to respond more,” Watson said.

    Gillie was just certified in March at a training in Fayetteville. He also served on the crew that worked in Sanford recently. Gillie was out of the state when the tornados hit North Carolina, but it was all over the news in Washington state where Gillie had gone to see his brother.

    Watson said he has used presentations for the congregations to encourage and motivate members to get involved. Volunteers share with the church how God has worked in them to bless others.

    ‘Blessing’ ministry
    Freddie Malone, 62, sat on her front porch planting flowers as a NCBM team cut apart a neighbor’s tree. “I am very happy to see those yellow shirts,” said Malone. “It is a blessing for us.”

    Malone grew up on this street, and she knew the tree they were cutting was tall, even when she was just a little girl playing in the yard.

    The tree down in the yard across from her house served as a daily reminder of the devastation that struck her neighborhood April 16. “You never get over it because every time you see it you go through it again,” she said.

    Malone serves as the caretaker of the rental property where the volunteers were cutting the tree. The woman who owns the house lives in another state.

    Malone said her house was fine but she had damage in her back yard. She lost a metal shed and her privacy fence was toppled. She had no electricity for five days and no phone for three weeks.

    “We were truly blessed,” she said. “God looked out for us.”

    Because of the coverage of the fallen tree, Malone said she could not tell the house behind the tree had sustained some damage from it. The renter in the house beside the tree had begun planting flowers and preparing to have a party in that section of the yard for a birthday and graduation this month. Now that the volunteers in yellow shirts have come, that party might happen.

    “I praise God that He sent them,” Malone said.

    NCBM seeks partners to help rebuild
     North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM) is moving toward the repair and rebuild stage and is in the process of seeking church-to-family partnerships. Volunteers are still doing chainsaw, debris removal and putting tarps on homes in the Raleigh area.

    Baptist Men has set a goal of helping 400 families rebuild homes. The idea is to partner churches or individual groups within churches to help these families. The families will apply for help and commit to giving funds from FEMA to help purchase materials for rebuilding their home. There is also a form for the church or group to complete.

    NCBM is providing up to $3,000 of building materials per home for the partner church to use in rebuilding the home. The church or group does not have to commit to provide any amount of money, although ministry to that family is encouraged.

    There will need to be a meeting to agree on what the volunteers can do for the family and assess what resources are available.

    Other ways to help the family: call on a regular basis; ask about prayer needs and share those needs within prayer ministry or the church bulletin; collect furniture and appliances; and invite them to church or other events.

    Contact Baptist Men at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5599, email or write to N.C. Baptist Men, P.O. Box 1107, Cary, NC 27512.
    6/9/2011 6:00:00 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments

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