N.C. Baptists on Mission disaster relief volunteers have responded to storm damages happening near and far, bringing aid to Caraway Conference Center and Trinity, Texas, in recent days.

N.C. Baptists on Mission disaster response volunteers came to the aid of Caraway Conference Center and Camp earlier this week after a severe thunderstorm over Memorial Day weekend downed numerous trees across the property leaving the facility impassable.

Caraway Director Jimmy Huffman said a severe thunderstorm rolled through Randolph County around 10:30 p.m. Sunday, May 26, bringing with it strong winds, heavy rain and hail that toppled trees and knocked out power at the heavily wooded camp located north of Asheboro. Caraway Conference Center and Camp is owned and operated by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. 

The toppled trees blocked the main drive into Caraway’s facilities as well as access roads throughout the camp, Huffman said. No buildings or structures were damaged during the storm.

With most of Caraway’s staff away for the Memorial Day holiday, Huffman said he knew he and the other two full-time staff members who live on site and were still there over the weekend would need help clearing the debris. So Huffman called N.C. Baptists on Mission Disaster Relief Coordinator Tom Beam.

Beam helped assemble a team of eight volunteers from the Triad to help clear the downed trees and make Caraway’s campus accessible again.

“That crew that came in to help us was such a big help because the few of us that live there on the property were doing everything we could,” Huffman said. “We just needed that extra manpower. They worked for about three or four hours to help us clear the roads. It was a big help.”

Huffman said the only guests staying at Caraway when the storm struck was a group of about 60 people from a local church who were on a retreat. No one from the group was injured during the storm, and they were able to safely leave after the roads were cleared.

The fallen trees also impacted local utility workers from accessing areas needed to restore power to the Caraway campus. Huffman said Caraway was without power for about 16 hours from approximately 10:30 p.m. Sunday until about 2:30 p.m. Monday.

The storm left lots of leaves, limbs and other debris across Caraway’s campus, and Huffman said cleanup efforts are ongoing as camp and conference center staff are gearing up for the slate of summer programs for groups and guests that begins next week.

Huffman said the cleanup efforts wouldn’t affect any of Caraway’s summer programs.

“We’ll get the main areas where guests are going to be cleaned up first and continue to work on getting our campus back to looking the way we want it to be,” Huffman said.

Caraway was not the only location receiving support from Baptists on Mission in recent days. On Monday, May 20, Baptists on Mission deployed more than 30 disaster relief volunteers to Trinity County, Texas, after storms swept through the region in late April. 

Located approximately 100 miles north of Houston, the county saw major flooding as overflowing creeks left a number of homes and cars in disarray. The region was declared to be in a state of disaster by the county judge on April 28. 

According to Beam, disaster relief volunteers have been sent to help repair more than 50 homes damaged by the flooding.

“There are some areas where the water is just now receding,” Beam said. “And this flooding happened a few weeks ago.”

Beam said that, despite the damage, he has seen glimmers of hope in the lives of the families affected. After visiting the site earlier this week, Beam recounted meeting the father of one young family that lost everything as a result of the flooding. 

“His hope and joy was completely gone until our volunteers showed up,” Beam said. “You could see that hope and joy creep back into his life.”

According to Beam, more volunteers are still needed for the disaster recovery efforts in Trinity. Volunteers are encouraged to sign up by visiting baptistsonmission.org.

Beam thanked N.C. Baptist volunteers who are willing to serve at a moment’s notice near and far. 

“Whether it’s cutting down trees at Caraway or serving the people of Trinity, Texas, we can’t do what we do without our volunteers and their willingness to go,” Beam said.

Disaster response is one of 19 different ministries of N.C. Baptists on Mission, which is supported by the North Carolina Missions Offering. 

EDITOR’S NOTESamuel Heard, editor and content coordinator for N.C. Baptists, and Chad Austin, managing editor for the Biblical Recorder, coauthored this article.