'Entire neighborhoods were completely wiped out' by Michael: Aid group explains the difficulties of returning to normalcy

By Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather staff writer
November 05, 2018, 2:17:51 PM EST

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Hurricane Michael left behind destruction in Florida, and the extremely powerful Category 4 storm, packing 155 mph winds, didn't spare many buildings.

The devastation from Hurricane Michael was widespread and extreme, not only on the coast but far inland, Joodi Archer, development and media director for Matthew 25: Ministries, said.

"Entire neighborhoods were completely wiped out; houses picked up by the wind and dropped hundreds of feet away; roofs ripped off of houses; trailers overturned and obliterated; trees uprooted; power lines and poles downed; storm surge that swept inland, flooded whole neighborhoods, and cut off access to remote locations," Archer said.

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)

(Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)


According to Archer, due to the scale of the damage, access to affected areas was often extremely limited. Even homes and businesses not directly in the hard-hit areas had damage that became worse because of the lack of infrastructure and supplies to get it fixed quickly.

"Mold was evident in almost any structure that was still standing because of the rain and storm surge. Additionally, there was little or no communication availability within the disaster area, adding further complication to individuals trying to begin the cleanup and recovery process," Archer said.

Matthew 25: Ministries CEO Tim Mettey, who has been on every major disaster deployment since Katrina, compared the devastation to what he saw during Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Their disaster response team delivered products directly into affected neighborhoods, in order to help those who couldn’t evacuate as well as those who were returning to their homes to start cleaning up. They provided supplies to shelters and distribution centers to help support and supplement their tireless efforts, as well as laundry services to impacted families.

"Our distributions included high-quality tarps, which covered shattered roofs so mold would not set in or provided shelter for residents whose homes were severely damaged or destroyed," Archer said.

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Houses that were under construction completely demolished by Hurricane Michael. (Image via Matthew 25: Ministries)


Matthew 25: Ministries also distributed generators, which helped families without electricity to regain the use of some electronics and other desperately needed household items, including fans/blowers to begin drying out the interiors of their homes.

"In addition to these, Matthew 25 distributed supplies like personal care kits that contained hygiene items; paper products like paper towels and toilet paper; safety kits with things like masks and gloves to protect residents returning to their homes for cleanup; cleaning supplies; baby items; laundry pods and bug spray," Archer said.

These types of items help residents to maintain good hygiene under challenging conditions or to begin the process of recovery and rebuilding. Additionally, providing people with these basics allows them to utilize their funds for other needs, including repairing and cleaning up their homes.

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"When responding domestically with teams, our Disaster Response Coordinator assesses locations within disaster regions that meet the setup and maneuverability needs of our vehicles and specialized units, as well as our program requirements of accessibility for residents and the ability to assist the maximum number of people," Archer said.

The Matthew 25: Ministries disaster response team consists of a small, specially trained group of staff members who drive their vehicles, operate equipment and are familiar with their system of distribution and can efficiently accomplish particular goals.

"Our fleet includes customized pick-up trucks, co-branded panel trucks, mobile laundry vehicles and an ice machine that makes up to 10,000 pounds of ice a day. Matthew 25’s on-the-ground partners provide us with feedback on what their needs are and we collect, process and provide aid that meets that criteria, packaged and prepared for rapid distribution," Archer said.

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"Because we work with local partners, listen to those partners and give those partners what they want and need, our products are always welcome, appreciated and useful to the affected community," Archer said.

Matthew 25: Ministries relies on financial gifts, which are used to acquire, process, package and ship aid to humanitarian partners or disaster victims.

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