Hurricane Irma became the second category 4 hurricane to strike the U.S. mainland this year when it made landfall in south Florida in September. It was the first time two category 4 storms have hit the continental U.S. in the same year.
Millions of Floridians evacuated ahead of Irma, only two weeks after Hurricane Harvey dumped 50 inches of rain on greater Houston. Irma’s massive size left a trail of destruction, claiming 35 lives in the Caribbean islands, at least six in Florida, three in Georgia and one in South Carolina, by early estimates. After hitting the Florida Keys on Sept. 10, and then Marco Island, Fla., hours later, the storm moved up the west coast of the state.
By the morning of Sept. 11, it had been downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved toward Georgia.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association had more than 100 Rapid Response Team chaplains ready to deploy in the storm’s aftermath. Disaster relief teams from Samaritan’s Purse were also preparing for days of ministry on the ground in Florida, while continuing its ministry in the Caribbean. Irma’s arrival came on the heels of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, where massive flooding caused destruction and loss of life during the last week of August.
“This morning my prayers are with the many who are waking up to their homes and businesses devastated by Irma’s wind and water,” Franklin Graham said on his Facebook page after Irma made landfall in Florida. “They will now be facing an overwhelming clean-up. Reports say up to 5.5 million people are without power in Florida. I pray especially for those who have lost loved ones in the storm. I know they would appreciate your prayers as well.”
Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham RRT ministry, said: “The destructive power of Hurricane Irma, especially on the immediate heels of Hurricane Harvey, reminds us of how fragile our lives really are. I ask you to join us in praying for all of those who are in the path of this storm, many of whom will spend months or years—perhaps even the rest of their lives—trying to work through the physical and emotional suffering they will endure.
“We’ll be there to offer the hope and comfort of Jesus Christ as they begin to find their ‘new normal.’” ©2017 BGEA