Operation Blessing Ready to Respond to Storms in Gulf Coast

CHESAPEAKE, Va. – Operation Blessing is on the move and ready to respond to the tropical storm and hurricane threatening the Gulf Coast. Early in the morning on August 24, OB Disaster Relief staff readied the fleet for the drive to Bristol, TN. Our team packed trailers full of critical disaster relief items, such as food, water, and cleaning supplies. Because of the additional concerns due to the pandemic, additional supplies include handwashing stations, masks, and more.

Ready To Respond

Please keep OB Disaster Relief staff in your prayers as we prepare to respond to these deadly tropical storms. To show your support for disaster relief victims, visit ob.org/obdisaster. For updates on our response to the storms, check our website regularly. Because of you, we are able to respond whenever disasters arise. Thank you for your support.

You Restored His Vision and His Future

HAITI – Meet Jean, a hard-working and dedicated student. At 24 years old, he studies medicine at the University Chretien Haiti, is a capable translator (fluent in Spanish, English, and French), takes painting classes, and is learning to fix computers on the side. Not only that, this driven young man started his own t-shirt making business in order to support himself and pay for his school tuition.

Jean is working hard toward his dream of becoming an obstetrician, and for noble reasons. “In my home village there are many difficulties in childbirth,” Jean says. “The infant and mother mortality rate is very high. I want to make a difference to those mothers who cannot receive medical care.”

Childhood Eye Injury

Sadly, a childhood incident threatened to dim Jean’s bright future. Years ago, Jean and his brother got in a fight, as brothers do. But this time a needle, which had been in his brother’s hand, got stuck in Jean’s left eye. Despite two visits to the hospital, Jean was never actually examined by a doctor.

“I have been living with my eye injury and doing the best I can,” Jean said. “Presently, the problem has affected me quite a bit, it itches continually, I cannot see well, and in bright light it bothers me to see at all.” To make matters worse, in addition to the initial injury, Jean had developed cataracts in both eyes. “It’s difficult to live with,” he added.

Jean needed surgery on both eyes—surgery that he could not afford. His family are traditional farmers in Haiti, with few resources to obtain medical care. “My best hopes are that if I had a successful surgery, and everything were corrected, I would be free to help others with everything I can,” Jean said.

eye surgery in Haiti

Eye Surgery In Haiti

Thankfully for Jean, his story found the ears of Operation Blessing and a partner organization in Haiti. Together, and with your support, Jean was able to begin his progress towards healing following his eye surgery in Haiti.

Because of your kindness and love, Jean has had the eye surgery in Haiti that was needed. He has already had two surgeries, one on each eye, which have helped significantly. And he now awaits further treatment to fully restore his vision. “Now with the help I received from Operation Blessing, I feel better to continue my school,” Jean exclaimed. “Thank you for this opportunity… God bless you all who sacrifice yourselves to help people!”

You Helped Senior Citizen Trapped by Isaias

VIRGINIA – When Marsha was trapped by Isaias–which knocked a tree across her driveway–she knew just who to call. And you sent the disaster relief help she needed!

Tropical Storm Isaias Leaves Trail of Damage

The night before Tropical Storm Isaias tore through Virginia, Marsha, a senior from Suffolk, was up most of the night. She nervously kept her eyes fixed on the local news. She heard talk of tornadoes unexpectedly forming and she wanted to be prepared. But as the night wore on, she got too tired.

Finally, at about 4:30 am, Marsha reluctantly succumbed to a restless sleep. When she woke up a little later, she wasn’t prepared for what she saw. “I looked out and things were blowing like crazy. I’ve been through storms and hurricanes, but I’ve never seen it blow that hard,” Marsha said.

isaias relief virginia

Stuck at Home Needing Help

Thankfully, when the storm finally passed both Marsha and her house were safe. But it blew a tree across her driveway. Marsha lives by herself and never had to deal with a situation like this before. To make matters worse, she has an auto immune disease called polymyalgia rheumatica which makes her injury prone. One false move and she can be bed ridden for months. She also has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma stage 4 and uses a cane to walk.

Marsha considers herself a tough woman and she does her best, but sometimes she loses her balance even with a cane. It’s hard for her to get around under normal circumstances but with a tree down in front of her door she felt trapped by Isaias.

“The whole day I wondered, ‘What do I do?’” Marsha said, “I got panicky. How am I going to get groceries?”

isaias relief Suffolk

Operation Blessing Sends Disaster Relief After Isaias

That’s when Marsha remembered Operation Blessing. She had heard about us because of our Snow Buddies response a couple years ago. That’s a program through which we help senior citizens get out of their houses when winter storms snow them in.

“I thought, ‘Oh, I bet they could help me,’” Marsha said, “So I called them up and it all happened so fast. I’m so grateful and so glad!”

We brought chainsaws to cut the tree into manageable pieces and a truck to haul it away. In a few short hours that tree was gone, and Marsha could get out of her house again.

Isaias tornado relief

Elderly Woman Helped by Operation Blessing

“If it weren’t for you, I don’t know how long I’d be in this house,” Marsha said, “I had all these feelings, but I didn’t know how to express them. You prayed with me and those feelings subsided. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am.”

Thank you so much to the donors and sponsors of Operation Blessing who make it possible for us to help people just like Marsha in their time of need. It’s because of you that we’re able to help people all around the world, and right here in Virginia.

Caring For Beirut Explosion Victims

May Lee Melki moved to the United States from Lebanon just one week before the explosion in Beirut. She watched in horror as a city she has a heart for was devastated by this unforeseen crisis. May Lee’s family founded Heart for Lebanon in 2006. This organization was created to “move people from despair to hope and has always responded in times of crisis,” May Lee said. Operation Blessing is partnering with Heart For Lebanon to bring hope to families affected by this tragedy.

Now the organization is focusing on disaster relief for churches and places of worship in the epicenter of the explosion. Volunteers are clearing debris and fixing up these buildings to serve as shelters for those who have been displaced.

Hear May Lee discuss how Heart for Lebanon is caring for the Beirut community during their desperate time of need. Please keep the victims of the Beirut explosion in your prayers, and consider giving a special gift to help disaster victims today!

You Are Reaching Out to Beirut Explosion Victims

LEBANON – On Tuesday a seemingly normal day suddenly turned to tragedy. First smoke filled the sky in the port area of Beirut. As people began to take notice, an earth-shattering explosion erupted, producing a giant mushroom cloud.

People in neighboring nations could hear the intense blast, and it could be felt throughout much of Lebanon. As the dust settles, at least 157 people were killed and 5,000 injured. Officials estimate that approximately 300,000 residents are without homes as a result.

The source of the blast turned out to be 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored at the port without proper safety measures, and for now, seems to be accidental in nature.

Nonetheless, the explosion has traumatized a nation that was already teetering on the brink of financial collapse. And the port through which most of their imported food entered the country has been decimated.

The people of Lebanon desperately need our help. Thankfully, because of your faithful support, Operation Blessing quickly reached out to a partner organization that works in the nation of Lebanon to help those suffering after the Beirut explosion. We will be sending much-needed assistance to victims. Follow this story for upcoming details.

Please keep the victims of the Beirut explosion in your prayers, and consider giving a special gift to help disaster victims today!

Blessing Neighbors in the Wake of Isaias

VIRGINIA – You never really know when disaster might strike. Although Hurricane Isaias quickly faded to Tropical Storm Isaias, it still wreaked havoc as it raced up the East Coast. Spawning tornadoes, dangerous wind gusts, and flashfloods, it left at least 6 people dead between North Carolina and Delaware.

Isaias was the first storm to cause damage along the U.S. East Coast this hurricane season. One of the powerful tornadoes touched down right in OB’s backyard in Suffolk, VA, striking the downtown and Riverview areas. Thankfully, no one was significantly injured by this tornado.

Thanks to you, Operation Blessing stays prepared for this type of natural disaster. Each year, we stock our warehouses before hurricane seasons starts. When tropical disturbances hit anywhere along the East Coast or Gulf Coast, you make sure we can quickly respond with disaster relief for reeling victims.

Isaias home damage

Standing Strong with Victims of Isaias Tornado in Suffolk

Because of your compassion, we were able to go straight into action the same morning the tornado hit. Operation Blessing workers packed a truck with water and disaster relief kits—from our generous partner The Home Depot Foundation—for the hurting people of Suffolk.

And we thank you for being there for victims of disasters in their darkest times!

Update 8/7

With your support, Operation Blessing is also reaching with disaster relief supplies to Franklin, VA, Windsor, NC, and Philadelphia, PA. And we’re continuing to assess other areas that need might assistance.

Are You Prepared For Disaster?

“How could we have prepared for this?” Operation Blessing’s Disaster Relief team hears these words all too often after a disaster destroys a family home. Nobody knows when disaster will strike, so it’s important to be prepared with a disaster emergency kit. Does your family know what do to in case of disaster? How prepared are you? These fun questions are designed to spark a family conversation about your specific preparation plan. Here are some suggested talking points.

  • When will you stay? When is it time to leave? Decide as a family when you will evacuate during a storm. Make sure everyone is on the same page. It’s also a good idea to decide on a meeting place before you evacuate so nobody gets left behind!
  • Evacuation route? Where will you take shelter during an evacuation? Plan out the best route to get there and have options in case roads are blocked.
  • Contact information? Who will know where you are located in case of evacuation? Give a few different people your plan. Write down important phone numbers and make sure everyone has a hard copy, in case phone batteries run out.

Emergency Kit

Making an emergency kit can be a fun family activity. Grab some plastic storage containers and fill them with basic emergency items. When you’re done, seal the bins with duct tape and store them in a central location like the garage. Here are some general guidelines for packing an emergency kit.

  • Food & Water Pack shelf-stable foods like canned soup, dried fruit, and crackers. Make sure to include one gallon of water per person, per day. And don’t forget the pet food! It is recommended to pack at least 3 days’ worth of food and water for your family.
  • Essential Supplies Pack supplies in your kit. These include things like a flashlight with extra bulbs and batteries, a can opener, hygiene supplies, a change of clothes, diapers, a map, and more.
  • Important Documents Make photocopies of any and all identifying information for everyone in your family. School transcripts and medication lists should be included, as well as insurance information and contact phone numbers.

Remember, Operation Blessing is here for you. Our disaster relief teams are ready to spring into action whenever disaster strikes. Visit ob.org/prep to learn more. You can also download our FREE Prepared Families Disaster Preparation Guide here!

Fighting the COVID-19 Crisis In Myanmar

Ko and Thida are hardworking parents living in Myanmar during COVID-19. When COVID-19 hit their country, the government ordered a shelter-in-place mandate, severely impacting their lives. Ko worked at a dam on a river near their home. The family would also chop and sell firewood to subsidize their income. But with the coronavirus spreading through Myanmar, Ko lost his job and people stopped showing up to buy wood.

Food Scarcity In Myanmar During COVID-19

Food scarcity in Myanmar during COVID-19 began to impact people like Ko and Thida. They grew desperate. They began to ration out their soap supply just to get by. In the midst of a pandemic when cleanliness is most important, washing their hands became a rare luxury.

But thanks to you, hope was just around the corner! Operation Blessing teams traveled directly to Ko and Thida’s home, delivering a package full of beans, rice, oil, shampoo, and soap. Their children can now wash their hands often, while Thida prepares meals to satisfy her family. Thank you for your heart to see families cared for in these trying times.

From the Field

You Blessed A Hungry Widow Through COVID-19

UNITED STATES – Stacie is no stranger to hard times. When COVID-19 social isolation hit the United States, Stacie made the hard choice. She decided to stay sheltered at home to protect her health. But she was not shaken. As a widow, Stacie has already endured extreme hardship, losing both her husband and son several years ago. Now Stacie faced the daunting reality of social distancing due to COVID-19. That, with the burden of having lost a husband and son, was a lot to bear. The emotional strain was compounded by the new challenge of dealing with COVID-19 social isolation. Even as the coronavirus pandemic spread through the United States, her faith kept her grounded.

The Challenge Of COVID-19 Social Isolation As A Widow

Being alone as a widow during COVID-19, Stacie did not often venture out of her home, making it difficult to access food. But thanks to YOU, and an Operation Blessing partner, Outreach for Christ, Stacie received food in her desperate time of need! Volunteers traveled to her home, delivering packages full of nourishing food items to sustain her while she shelters-in-place. Thank you for your heart to care for men and women all over the country struggling at this time with the burden of social isolation.

Hibernating and Hungry During COVID-19

When the coronavirus hit the United States, it turned Sandra’s life upside down. She suffers from many health conditions that put her at high-risk for contracting the COVID-19 virus. These conditions, combined with her age, forced Sandra to make the decision to shelter in place. Weeks turned into months and Sandra became desperate for supplies. But the risk was too great to venture out to buy them herself.

But thanks to you, Operation Blessing partner Outreach for Christ received the exact resources Sandra needed during the COVID-19 crisis! Volunteers were able to deliver food and paper products directly to her door. Staff wore masks and gloves to protect themselves and Sandra, blessing her with supplies while also safeguarding her health. Thank you for your heart to see Sandra cared for in this desperate time.