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Members of many faiths working together defines ongoing clean-up effort in North Carolina

“It does a soul good.”

Those five simple words, expressed by a Latter-day Saint in North Carolina following another “satisfying and exhausting” weekend of hot and muddy clean-up efforts across the Tar Heel State, aptly describe the work being performed.

For the past couple of weeks, members and missionaries have mobilized across communities devastated by Hurricane Florence. Much work has been accomplished. Much more will be required in the coming weeks as once-inundated cities such as Wilmington, New Bern and Lumberton continue their recovery.

“It’s been amazing to see the cooperation and how well-organized the Church is in delivering supplies and assistance to those in need,” said Elder Matthew Harding, an Area Seventy from Raleigh. “We all have a common goal and it’s beautiful to see.”

The weekend of Sept. 29-30 was defined by the growls of chain saws and the grunts of heavy lifting as members in Helping Hands T-shirts cleared out fallen trees and waterlogged homes.

In the storm-affected communities being served by the Raleigh Coordinating Council, for example, more than 2,700 volunteers completed over 44,000 work hours. More than 1,000 online work orders were completed.

Members from the Apex North Carolina Stake pose for a group photo during clean-up efforts in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Members from the Apex North Carolina Stake pose for a group photo during clean-up efforts in Wilmington, North Carolina. Photo: Photo by Justin Burnette

“In addition to wonderful experiences with individuals and families, we’ve had a number of quality interactions with other congregations such as the Baptists and Christian Scientists,” reported local public affairs director William Calhoun. “I’ve love joining hands in prayer with so many of these good people when the clean up is completed on their properties.”

Thousands of more volunteers are expected to fill work assignments in the coming weeks in both North and South Carolina.

While members across the globe will take time off Oct. 6-7 to watch general conference, teams of Helping Hands volunteers will be busy at work. Elder Harding said most will likely watch rebroadcasts of sessions during non-work hours.

The Area Seventy agreed no one ever wants to witness a storm such as Florence again. But he noted the Church has made several new friends as wards and stakes travel across North Carolina to help folks of all backgrounds in need.

“They are all working together to bring some sense of relief.”

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