Senate Majority Leader Impressed by Samaritan’s Purse Efforts to Help Hurricane Victims

Sen. Bill Frist Meets with Crews Providing Emergency Relief

Standing in the shadow of a massive oak tree that had toppled onto the home of Sonya Stallworth, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist waved to the Samaritan's Purse disaster relief team on the roof and thanked them for their hard work and generosity.

"I've traveled with Samaritan's Purse around the world and I've seen so many examples of this organization's compassionate relief," said Sen. Frist (R-Tenn.). "As we've traveled around the Gulf Coast, once again you see first hand that effort to reach out and address the immediate needs of people who otherwise would not be helped. To see the emotion and the compassion is heartwarming, and shows the very best of the American spirit."

As chainsaws buzzed in the background, and hammers banged from rooftops, Senator Frist spent part of the Labor Day weekend witnessing the labors of the Samaritan's Purse crews in Alabama and Mississippi. Samaritan's Purse has historically provided international relief, but since 1998, the organization's Disaster Relief Unit has responded domestically to hurricanes, tornados, floods, ice storms, and wildfires in 14 states, helping more than 3,300 families across the United States.

While much of the media attention since Hurricane Katrina has been focused on New Orleans, other areas were hard-hit by the devastating storm. The hurricane blasted Biloxi, Miss., with 140-mile-an-hour winds and a storm surge of more than 20 feet. Thousands of survivors lost everything they owned and have nowhere to go. Samaritan's Purse relief crews are there now, helping to clear away the mud and debris blocking streets and performing emergency repairs to help people get back into their homes.

Mobile, Alabama, marked the edge of the hurricane impact zone. Flooding and high winds caused havoc, and in the aftermath, Sonya Stallworth admitted to Senator Frist that after seeing the terrible suffering in New Orleans, she expected to be bypassed by any relief efforts.

"But I saw this van go by with Samaritan's Purse written on the side. I asked if anyone could help me, and they came back a couple of hours later with chainsaws and supplies," said Stallworth. "I had a tree on my house, rain poured in through holes in the roof. I don't have much money, and I didn't know what I would do. I just can't tell you how much I appreciate their help."

In addition to the relief efforts in Alabama and Mississippi, Samaritan's Purse president Franklin Graham is talking to churches. Graham sent a letter today to 18 denominational leaders, thanking them for what they are doing to help hurricane victims, but also rallying support for his challenge to every church in the Southeastern United States to take in 10 families for three months.

Graham's parents are lending support to the idea. Billy and Ruth Graham have agreed to provide a missionary guest house to a family that lost its home in Hurricane Katrina.

MEDIA NOTE: Use the following information to add Samaritan's Purse to your list of how people can help:

  • Give: Donations keep our trucks stocked and volunteers supplied. (A case of fresh water costs $9, roofing plywood is $25, and plastic to cover a typical roof costs $90.) Donations can be made atwww.samaritanspurse.org or at (800) 567-8183.

  • Volunteer: Hundreds of workers will be needed over the coming weeks. If a team of at least five individuals would like to volunteer or if a church would like to organize and schedule a work team, call the Samaritan's Purse disaster team at (828) 262-1980 or email disasterresponse@samaritan.org.

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