When Hurricane Michael wrecked Miami in 2018, Dave and Norma Turner lived there.
“Right after it happened, [Southern Baptist Disaster Relief] was there in our church parking lot,” Norma said. “Dave promised the Lord then that when he retired, this is what we’ll do.”
They kept that promise even after they moved to Arizona, where they’re now members of Mosaic Baptist Church in Wickenburg.
The couple has been serving with Disaster Relief since 2010, but increased their involvement when they retired to Arizona. They most recently responded to the call from Arizona Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief for assessment and chaplaincy volunteers in Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Ida, which made landfall Aug. 29 as a Category 4 storm.
The assessment process for Disaster Relief is much like it sounds — assessment volunteers have a scale of damage that they can assist with, and it’s up to the assessors to be the first point of contact with the homeowners. They see the raw emotion of the homeowners up close, as well as the vast array of destruction.
“Filling out paperwork is what gives these homeowners hope that help is coming,” Norma said.
The opportunity to make that connection and be a listening ear for these homeowners is what Norma loves about assessment and chaplaincy work.
But there are also those times that a job is too big for Disaster Relief or the destruction is too severe, and it has to be passed to another organization that is better equipped to handle it.
“It’s really hard to tell a homeowner, ‘I’m sorry, but we can’t help in this one situation.’ … That’s the worst part about this work,” Norma said.
The beauty of Disaster Relief work, however, is in the messy parts. The Bible tells believers to weep with those who weep (Rom. 12:15), and that’s exactly what volunteers like Norma do.
“I’ve had so many people cry on my shoulder,” she said. “I’ve shed many tears with people doing this.”