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Serving Dorian Victims in Ocracoke

Field Report by Justin Jenkins

NORTH CAROLINA, USA – This morning as we rode the ferry to Ocracoke, NC, I couldn’t help but think of Ms. Trudy Austin. The amazing woman had turned down our help yesterday, insisting that we take care of her neighbor first. But today we would have the honor of serving her, and helping her recover from the devastation of Hurricane Dorian.

Dorian Strikes the Island

The night the storm hit, Trudy was in her home with her sister. As the hurricane approached, the eye wall went directly over them with little damage. They thought they were safe. But that was only because they didn’t know what was still to come. For about 20 minutes everything stayed calm. Then disaster struck. When the back side of the eye hit, winds smashed against their home and the water began rushing inside. They had little time to act. The water rose so high and so fast that by the time they decided to evacuate, the back door had jammed shut. “It was seeping through the floor as fast as it was rushing through the door,” Trudy said.

Debris after Hurricane Dorian in Ocracoke Island.

With the backdoor blocked, they looked for other ways to escape. The water kept getting higher and it showed no signs of slowing down. Trudy thought about going through the windows, but neither she nor her sister could lift the heavy old windows. That left only one option: the front door. The very place the water rushed in the fastest.

Trudy tried to open that door, but the water pushed against it so hard she couldn’t get it open either. With no options left, she smashed the glass on her storm door. She and her sister hurried out of the hole and stepped on a porch that looked like a river. “We got out,” Trudy said. “We held on to each other, and we swam over to the cottage.”

Trudy has a raised cottage just behind her house, and that’s where she and her sister found safety. As Trudy sat there watching the raging water, she couldn’t believe her eyes. “I had just been looking the night before on TV about the Abacos,” Trudy said. “And thinking how horrible that they lost everything. How they had to swim out of the house. Then 9 hours later I was doing the same thing.”

Operation Blessing on the Scene with Disaster Relief

Hurricane Dorian damage.

Trudy and her loved ones are safe now, but her house suffered severe damage. She has a long hard road to recovery ahead. The people on Ocracoke are resilient. But everyone on this island got hit hard, so there’s not enough help to go around.

Thankfully Operation Blessing is on Ocracoke, serving Trudy and her neighbors in their recovery efforts! As we combed the streets, looking for people who needed aid, we happened upon Trudy. We told her we’d come to serve her in whatever way necessary, and she was so excited! She grew up with a mom who watched the 700 Club and was overjoyed to learn an affiliated group had arrived on the scene. “This team of angels just rolled in on a horse, and they’re here to help,” Trudy said.

Operation Blessing is serving and praying with hurricane victims.

As we reached her home today, we found massive mounds of water-soaked debris around it. We began to haul it to the road so it can be safely taken away. Afterwards, we prayed with Trudy and lifted her spirits. We got a lot of serving done today, but Trudy still has more work left to do. We let her know we would come back and help in any way we can.

She expressed how thankful she was not only to our team, but to the people who donate and make all this disaster relief work possible. “Thank you for donating. And keep donating, because it does matter. Take it from me. I’m experiencing it first hand and never thought in my life I would need that.”

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