Samaritan’s Purse arrives in Huntsville

Written by Brent Cooper

Published by Cottage Country Now on Wednesday, May 1, 2013

HUNTSVILLE - Stephen and May Joudrey appeared to be a very nice, easy-going couple of seniors, relaxing on a quiet Monday afternoon in the front end of their trailer.

But in the coming days, the couple may be considered nothing short of a Godsend.

The Joudreys are the disaster relief co-ordinators for Samaritan’s Purse’s Eastern Canada region, and are in Huntsville to assist homeowners who were impacted by last week’s massive flood.

They, along with volunteers and a tractor trailer full of emergency equipment, are hoping to help property owners with the immediate assistance they require to get their homes back together, such as cleaning mold, ripping off wet and damaged drywall as well as cleaning and prepping areas in need of repair, etc.

“We travel all over eastern Canada, from Newfoundland to Leamington, Ontario,” said Stephen. “We have dealt with flood, hurricanes and even tornados.”

Over the years, Samaritan’s Purse has responded with its disaster units to flooding in New Brunswick, Quebec and British Columbia; to forest fires in Alberta; to a tornado in Leamington; and to hurricane Igor in Newfoundland.

The disaster relief unit that the Jourdreys brought with them is a tractor trailer unit, regularly based in Caledonia, but currently parked in front of Faith Baptist Church.

It is outfitted with essential disaster recovery equipment including generators, pumps, hand tools, and safety gear for volunteers. It also serves as a volunteer co-ordination centre, and is equipped with a self-contained office, communications system, and other supplies.

The Joudreys arrived in town on April 22 to assess the situation. After the initial assessment and meeting with community officials, the decision was made to bring the disaster unit to Huntsville from Caledonia to assist local residents. The unit was here by Thursday and work began in earnest on Monday, although Stephen did assess some homes on the weekend.  

“We had to wait first for permission from the municipality before we came in,” said Stephen. “We prefer to come in the front door, not the back.”

Samaritan’s Purse Canada, better known for its Operation Christmas Child program that sends gift-filled shoe boxes to needy children around the world each year, is also an international Christian relief and development organization that works in about 40 countries to help victims of war, disease, disaster, poverty, famine, and persecution.

“We have been with Samaritan’s Purse for about 10 years now,” said Stephen “We were first with the Operation Christmas Child, then for the past three years, we have been with this aspect.”

Residents seeking assistance can call a toll-free number, 1-866-628-6565, and request help. Once May receives the call at the unit for help, she prepares the work order, Stephen, a retired employee of CN, acts as the assessor and goes to the property where the damage is reported.

After he makes his assessment, a group of volunteers – either the ones organized by the Joudreys or by the property owner – begin the work, aided by supplies and tools courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse.

“What we do is mobilize volunteers,” said May, who added they do not loan their equipment. “We provide them with the tools needed to assist the homeowner. They sign on a form what they would like us to do, and we assign a crew there. We also provide the volunteers with a lunch.”

“I have no authority to go into someone’s home and tell them what to do,” Stephen added. “I can only advise.”

The couple said on Monday that they already received about a dozen requests for help, and that they expect many more calls for assistance before they are done.

“We are here until the job is done,” said Stephen. “And the work is just starting.”

“I would say it takes about five days to a week until the word gets out there,” added May. “Some people have been scammed and don’t believe it is for free. But once word gets out there, we will get swamped.”

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