Kristy Graham, host of On the Ground with Samaritan’s Purse podcast, started out early in the morning from Samaritan’s Purse International Headquarters in the mountains of North Carolina. She met up with a team loading relief supplies onto the Samaritan’s Purse DC-8 cargo plane in Greensboro, North Carolina.
After loading the plane, Kristy, along with other medical staff and disaster responders, headed out to the disaster zone in the Bahamas. While on the plane, she talked to Ken Isaacs, who serves as the vice president of programs and government relations for Samaritan’s Purse, about the disaster experiences he has witnessed.
They landed in Nassau, then jumped on the Samaritan’s Purse helicopter to fly to Freeport, Grand Bahama, where the organization set up an Emergency Field Hospital. Kristy was greeted by Dr. Elliott Tenpenny, who serves as the medical director for the Emergency Field Hospital in the Bahamas. She spoke with him about how Hurricane Dorian has affected the country, and he gave her a tour of the tent facility. Certified as a Tier 2 facility, it is equipped with surgeons, physicians, nurses, pharmaceutical staff, and biotech engineers to provide outstanding medical care.
While at the hospital, Kelly Suter, a clinical manager for Samaritan’s Purse, shared how everyone serving is all hands on deck. To each of them, dedication looks like 18-hour days, working around the clock to set up the Emergency Field Hospital, and eating Meals Ready to Eat (MREs). They are devoted to bringing relief to victims of the Category 5 hurricane.
Kristy had the opportunity to speak with two people who received critical medical care at the Emergency Field Hospital. Troy, a man who helped rescue over 100 people from the flood waters, came in to receive treatment for a badly infected cut on his arm. He even helped his neighbor, who was paralyzed from the waist down, out of the disaster. Dwane, whose son had his appendix removed in surgery, told Kristy the story of how his son’s life was saved. His son felt unbearable pain in his side, and surgeons in the Emergency Field Hospital performed the emergency appendectomy surgery in less than two hours.
Barb Rash, a long-time Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) member, explained to Kristy how God has allowed her the opportunity to serve in many countries, including the Bahamas, Ecuador, and Iraq. She felt God has been preparing her throughout her whole life to serve.
The DART was joined by chaplains from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to help patients and their families with emotional and spiritual care. Kevin, one of the chaplains, shared about their ministry inside the tent hospital. He encouraged patients to talk about their trauma and to put their trust in God.
Kristy reluctantly pulled herself away from the Emergency Field Hospital and traveled to the organization’s base of operations on Marsh Harbour in the Abaco Islands. She was speechless as she witnessed the severity of the wreckage: communities reduced to piles of rubble; brick and concrete buildings completely demolished; and landscapes flattened.
The team on the ground worked tirelessly, unloading and organizing supplies to provide them to hurting families in the worst-affected areas in the Bahamas. Although the team never stopped moving, Kristy talked with Bev Kauffeldt, the DART leader in the country, who spoke only of the goodness of God and His provision. Bev has been with the organization for over 20 years, but describes the differences of each disaster.
The work is far from over, but everyone can be a part of it by partnering with our team in prayer.