Brooksville Wesleyan Church members and friends rejoice there’s been no loss of life in the historic storm that hit the state of Florida with fury on September 10 and 11. Senior pastor Jerry Pence reports that the long-term implications for recovery of Hurricane Irma are yet to be unveiled. Yet, this crisis has brought people together with a healing perspective of God’s grace.
No one locally suffered loss of life, in spite of many close calls, including a couple in the RV resort next door to the church that survived a tree limb crashing through the roof of their trailer and landing between them as they lay in bed.
The church’s thousand seat sanctuary provided emergency shelter for up to 78 persons and a number of pets for several days, as they and other Hernando County residents hunkered down. Families, children, seniors, evacuees from south Florida, and some of the congregation’s newest and eldest friends (including a blind member who will be 99 in November) developed new bonds and appreciation for one another through the hours of the storm. Time was occupied registering personal contacts, organizing housekeeping details, setting up makeshift beds, listening to live weather updates and warnings, contacting relatives, and receiving uplifting texts and Scripture promises from loved ones until cellphone communications were lost. A three o’clock impromptu Sunday afternoon hymn sing and worship service bolstered spirits, with emergency power generators humming along throughout the night.
A last-minute wobble eastward of the storm’s eye that seemed to have been aimed straight for Brooksville and the degradation of the Category 4 hurricane to a Category 1 avoided what would have been a more devastating impact.
Several homes in Wesleyan Village suffered roof and structural damage, and residents of the 400 home retirement community owned by The Wesleyan Church are now hard at work dealing with sewer backups in homes, property losses, and cleaning up debris. The full extent of damage to property is yet to be discovered.
In addition to sheltering individuals who still need assistance until power, water and sewer utilities are restored, local church and Wesleyan Village leaders are preparing to serve as a distribution site for donated bottled water, hygiene kits and food being supplied by World Hope International to assist neighbors in the community. Pastor Pence expresses the sincere gratitude of his congregation for the prayers, encouragement, and helping hands of so many fellow believers during the storm and urges continued prayer and support for those even harder hit, as they now rebuild homes, churches, businesses, communities and livelihoods throughout Florida.
Donations to the Wesleyan Emergency Relief Fund for the Hurricane Irma response are being received at donate.wesleyan.org/werf/hurricaneirma.