FREEPORT, N.Y. (BP) -- For Angela and Noel Quiles and their three children, Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on their home as well as their hearts.
The family was forced to leave their small home in Freeport, N.Y., when the hurricane hit in October, not knowing when they would return. Seeing Sandy's massive destruction was discouraging, but the family didn't stop praying and hoping that eventually they would be able to return to their home.
The Quiles witnessed God's answer to their cry for help on a Saturday morning in early January. Their tears switched from sadness to joy when military and civilian volunteers arrived to help. They came from across the country, mobilized by a faith-based relief network, including Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.
A U.S. Navy volunteer team from Naval Base Kitsap, Navy retirees from Rhode Island, Filipino-Americans of Newport County and members of the Brooklyn Evangelical Church went to work on a cold Saturday morning. They removed molded debris from the home and applied anti-mold liquid.
Though much work remained at the end of the day, the family was thankful to know others cared for them and to see such progress toward restoring their home.
One member of the team, Navy Chaplain Don Biadog Jr., was rendering aid in New York for the first time since the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001.
"Of course 9/11 was a tragic, mindboggling manmade disaster," said Biadog, a North American Mission Board-endorsed chaplain who often is involved in challenging settings, including families after the loss of a loved one in combat. "This time we were helping the victims of a natural disaster, Superstorm Sandy. I led a team of volunteers at the Quiles' home and oversaw operations of several command centers in New Jersey and New York over a two-week period overlapping New Year's Day."
At the Quiles' home and at other mud-out sites, Biadog was joined by volunteers from 15 states.
"What we did was about being the hands and feet of Jesus," the chaplain said. "A lot of people might have asked, 'Where is God?' after the storm. I feel that we were showing God's love by going to those in need."
Biadog said the work was no easy task. Much effort is still being focused on mud-out in addition to helping survivors return to a sense of normalcy.
"Volunteers helped [by] tearing down sheetrock or drywall of flood-damaged houses in Staten Island and Long Island," Biadog said. "They removed and cleared debris, cut down trees and provided food. I was able to pray with many of those affected. It was great to be able to pray with them."
Compiled by the North American Mission Board staff. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress
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