Samaritan's Purse may come to Delta

Friday, April 4, 2008

More help may come to some Southeast Missouri communities, on one condition.

People have to ask for it.

Wendle Capps, the director of disaster relief for Samaritan's Purse, said some people who really need help hesitate to ask for one reason.

"They're too proud," he said.

Samaritan's Purse is a Christian relief organization run by Franklin Graham, the Rev. Billy Graham's son. The group sends teams to spots around the globe to help people recover from wars and natural disasters. It operates Children's Heart Project, to provide heart surgery for children with congenital heart defects living in areas with little or no medical resources. Each Christmas season, the group also sends gift-filled shoe boxes to children in 90 countries.

When responding to disaster areas, the Boone, N.C.-based Samaritan's Purse sends teams equipped with emergency supplies and cleanup equipment.

"They talked about pulling out carpet and drywall and cleaning up lots and lots of cornstalks in people's yards," said the Rev. Eric Hodge, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Delta.

His church will host the group if it comes in. Today Hodge and an advance team are scheduled to tour Delta and surrounding communities, including Allenville, Dutchtown, Chaffee, Zalma and anywhere else in the surrounding flood-affected area.

In Piedmont on Thursday, Capps said his group originally had a handful of requests. As teams began working to clean out houses, more people asked for help.

"They'll get curious and stop by and ask, find out you don't charge anything. It's free," Capps said.

As of Thursday afternoon, 28 work orders were recorded for Piedmont and surrounding areas. Capps said he won't move teams to Delta unless there's a call: One work order will be enough.

"Our priorities are the elderly, the handicapped and single moms. We don't turn away helping anyone who asks, but we do prioritize," he said.

The objective is to get people back into their own homes as quickly and safely as possible, he said.

Hodge said he knows there are still many people in his community who need help. He just hopes they speak up.

People can register for assistance at the church, 591 Liberty St. in Delta, or call 573-794-2478 for details. The church has a Web site, www.fbcdelta.org.

The Community Organizations Active in Disaster opened a one-day center Wednesday in Marble Hill and another Thursday in Delta. The centers offered to connect flood victims with the Red Cross, United Way, Salvation Army and other community organizations.

FEMA spokesman Jack Heesch said 53 people applied for help in Marble Hill by the end of Wednesday's eight-hour event; by 3 p.m. Thursday, 35 had arrived at the Delta Community Center to seek aid.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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