As a young boy, Lin Honeycutt never imagined that he would
one day be coordinating recovery efforts in the neighborhood where he was
“It’s been quite an
experience,” Honeycutt said. “It’s been a big blessing to be able to help
people I’ve known all my life.”
He lives, works and goes to church in the same area where he
grew up in south Raleigh and is the
white hat coordinator for the North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM).
NCBM set up its Raleigh
headquarters at Carolina Pines
on South Saunders Street, a
hard-hit area of the capital city after an April 16 tornado carved a path
through houses and businesses, streets and playgrounds.
As of June 4, Honeycutt said Baptist Men and its volunteers
had completed 575 chain saw jobs with at least 60 more to go. Honeycutt
estimated that chain saw jobs will be complete within a couple of weeks and all
volunteers will be redirected to restoring and rebuilding efforts.
NCBM has agreed to adopt
Stony Brook Mobile Home Park, which originally had 180 homes. Baptist Men will
rebuild or restore 100 of the homes that were deemed salvageable.
“We’re getting the families out of the shelters and back
into their homes, said the Highland Baptist
Because of the amount of devastation, he believes NCBM
will be at Carolina Pines for at least four more months.
Honeycutt, who has seen more than his fair share of
disasters in his 22 years of volunteering with NCBM,
compared the destruction to hurricanes — Katrina and Floyd.
Honeycutt was in Winston-Salem April 16 at one of the
Baptist Men’s regional training weekends. He was on his way home Saturday
afternoon when he received a call redirecting him to Sanford
where a home improvement store was demolished.
He was 30 minutes from Sanford
when he received a second call telling him to go home because a tornado was
tearing across his area.
“I kind of freaked out,” said Honey-cutt, who could not
imagine a tornado hitting downtown. “I didn’t know what to expect.”
After talking to his wife about what she was seeing, “I put
it in high gear,” he said. Honeycutt drove to his business and unhooked a
camper he had used at disaster relief training.
“I couldn’t even get down the streets,” he said. “South
Saunders was blocked off completely. There were no lights anywhere.”
Compared to others, Honeycutt said the damage at his
business was minimal — roof, ceiling and signage.
By 10:30 p.m.
Honeycutt was surveying the church with a flashlight to see if it would be
suitable for responding to the disaster. With power out in south Raleigh,
he said he got chills recounting how the lights at the church came on while
“There were no lights anywhere else,” Honeycutt said. “The
lights have not been off since then.”
Honeycutt said it has been a blessing to serve in his
“Not only were we able to help residents but we were able to
help supporting churches,” he said.
Chain saw teams were on site April 17, the day after storms
ripped across the state. They worked to clear streets for two days. By April
18, NCBM was contacted by Red Cross to help
with feeding people. The first meal served 45,000 out of the church’s parking
At one point, there were 12 sites operated by NCBM
to help communities in need across North Carolina.
The site in Fayetteville
closed about two weeks ago, leaving Raleigh
as the only site left open to help those in need. While the feeding has
switched to the church’s kitchen to feed the volunteers, Honeycutt estimated
30-50 volunteers each day with as many as 150 on site at any one time.
“We have been able to use local volunteers through the city
and county … as many as 125” totaling about 250 on a recent Saturday, Honeycutt
Because the city is known for its oak trees, Honeycutt said
two out of three of the jobs needs heavy equipment. For the first time, NCBM
had to purchase a 48-inch saw, and he said that some of the trees are still
bigger than that saw’s range. Honeycutt said he had a bucket truck, cherry
picker and excavator as well as six Bobcats operating out of the Raleigh
He said 650 jobs is typical for a hurricane site but not a
tornado. This recent disaster showed Honeycutt that “disaster can happen at
your back door.”
Preparedness is key, Honeycutt said.
Red Mountain Baptist Church in Rougemont sent a team of four
down recently to help on a Saturday. Wally Watson, a member at the church, led
three other men — Jamie Gillie, Eric Sanders and Bill
Johnson — as they cut apart a large black walnut tree that had fallen in a yard
in south Raleigh.
Watson became Baptist Men coordinator five years ago at his
church; they bought a trailer and have since had a total of 15 church members
trained in some form of disaster recovery.
He and some church members spent four days in Sanford
in May doing similar work
Anytime we get a phone call, Watson said he brings a request
before the church.
Teams have worked at Camp
Duncan and Baptist Children’s Homes
facilities as well as doing yard work for people in their community.
“It’s really been special for me … in fact our church is
starting to respond more,” Watson said.
Gillie was just certified in March at a training in Fayetteville.
He also served on the crew that worked in Sanford recently. Gillie was out of
the state when the tornados hit North Carolina,
but it was all over the news in Washington
state where Gillie had gone to see his brother.
Watson said he has used presentations for the congregations
to encourage and motivate members to get involved. Volunteers share with the
church how God has worked in them to bless others.
Freddie Malone, 62, sat on her front porch planting flowers
as a NCBM team cut apart a neighbor’s tree.
“I am very happy to see those yellow shirts,” said Malone.
“It is a blessing for us.”
Malone grew up on this street, and she knew the tree they
were cutting was tall, even when she was just a little girl playing in the
The tree down in the yard across from her house served as a
daily reminder of the devastation that struck her neighborhood April 16. “You
never get over it because every time you see it you go through it again,” she
Malone serves as the caretaker of the rental property where
the volunteers were cutting the tree. The woman who owns the house lives in
Malone said her house was fine but she had damage in her
back yard. She lost a metal shed and her privacy fence was toppled. She had no
electricity for five days and no phone for three weeks.
“We were truly blessed,” she said. “God looked out for us.”
Because of the coverage of the fallen tree, Malone said she
could not tell the house behind the tree had sustained some damage from it. The
renter in the house beside the tree had begun planting flowers and preparing to
have a party in that section of the yard for a birthday and graduation this
month. Now that the volunteers in yellow shirts have come, that party might
“I praise God that He sent them,” Malone said.
NCBM seeks partners to
North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM)
is moving toward the repair and rebuild stage and is in the process of seeking
church-to-family partnerships. Volunteers are still doing chainsaw, debris
removal and putting tarps on homes in the Raleigh
Baptist Men has set a goal of helping 400 families rebuild
homes. The idea is to partner churches or individual groups within churches to
help these families. The families will apply for help and commit to giving
funds from FEMA to help purchase materials for rebuilding their home. There is
also a form for the church or group to complete.
NCBM is providing up to
$3,000 of building materials per home for the partner church to use in
rebuilding the home. The church or group does not have to commit to provide any
amount of money, although ministry to that family is encouraged.
There will need to be a meeting to agree on what the
volunteers can do for the family and assess what resources are available.
Other ways to help the family: call on a regular basis; ask
about prayer needs and share those needs within prayer ministry or the church
bulletin; collect furniture and appliances; and invite them to church or other
Contact Baptist Men at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5599, email
[email protected] or write to N.C. Baptist Men, P.O.
Box 1107, Cary, NC 27512.