BOONE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Boone-based Samaritan’s Purse organization has boots on the ground in Australia, ready to help those impacted by the wildfires that have been ravaging the country.
Samaritan’s Purse is an international, nondenominational, evangelical Christian disaster relief organization. They work to render aid after catastrophic events all over the world.
WBTV spoke to Daniel Stephens, disaster response manager for Samaritan’s Purse in Australia, Tuesday night. Stephens is a North Carolina native but will be based in Australia for the next several months. He said they’ve had teams responding to the wildfires in Australia since September of 2019.
Stephens said Samaritan’s Purse currently has teams along the South Coast in New South Wales and in Victoria too. He said those two areas have been hit hard by the fires.
“I’ve been doing disaster response work for a number of years now. I’ve responded both in the US and internationally to earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, all sorts of stuff. I’ve never seen anything quite like these fires and the complete devastation that it causes,” said Stephens.
The disaster response manager said he has been with families who have returned home to their properties after fire damage. He described how difficult it is to see the situations.
“It’s incredibly heartbreaking to see. I’ve been out there with the families as they return back to their properties and see the devastation and see what’s happening. It’s incredibly, incredibly heartbreaking,” explained Stephens.
He said his teams will work on relief and recovery after fires have moved through a given area. He said one of the things they do is sift through rubble and debris and look for items that can be recovered.
“We’ll come in and really just help people rebuild their lives after this, try to bring them a little bit of hope a little bit of encouragement,” said Stephens.
He explained that the Samaritan’s Purse teams can only get to areas that have been properly cleared by the local firefighters on the ground.
“These areas that are on fire we’re not able to get in. Once we kind of gain more access, we’re probably going to be bringing in a lot more volunteers and building up those numbers cause we’re gonna have a lot more that needs to be done.”
Stephens said that anyone who is interested in working with Samaritan’s Purse can visit their website at www.samaritanspurse.org.