A first-person account of the spiritual support given to the members and community in the wake of Hurricane Florence’s flooding in North Carolina.
by Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Marcus Taylor, CAP
Middle East Region Deputy Chaplain
The presence of the CAP Chaplain Corps was both seen and felt during the recent response mission for Hurricane Florence. I am happy to say that the CAP Chaplain Corps provided a spiritual presence for this mission, as a call up for all available personnel who could deploy went out, first to all North Carolina Wing (NCWG) Chaplain Corps personnel, to report for duty to give Chaplain Support to this mission. Plans were also in the ready to expand that call to our Chaplain Corps personnel in nearby wings and regions, as the need arose for additional personnel to help with this arduous task.
I served as the Chaplain presence and coordinator for Mission Chaplain Support at the Incident Command Post (ICP), North Carolina Wing Headquarters (NCWG HQ), Burlington, NC, for the entirety of the mission. Two of our CAP Chaplains from the Middle East Region (MER), Chaplain David Bobbey, NCWG, and Chaplain Deric Dunn, MDWG, were deployed to the field and spent a week serving on site in the Kinston, NC and Wilmington, NC areas. Chaplain Wayne Byerly, chaplain for the Middle East Region, and I were able to fly into the Wilmington area on Wednesday, 19 September, and visit our personnel that were manning three Point of Distribution (POD) locations in the area, to monitor their morale and overall well-being, and the well-being of the other first responders in those areas. We also toured some of the devastation in the inner community areas, and the housing facilities for our CAP personnel, National Guard personnel, and first responders.
On the mornings of 16 September and 23 September, I was able to provide a brief Devotional Worship Service, at the request of the NCWG commander, for the CAP personnel who were hard at work, manning the ICP at NCWG HQ, in Burlington, North Carolina. These can be viewed on the CAP Chaplain Corps Facebook page. These men and women were giving of their time, training and energy preparing for and providing assistance, where called upon, by our federal, state, and local agencies, who were attempting to respond to the vicious onslaught of Hurricane Florence. Although we were beginning to ramp back some of our activity relative to this mission by 26 September, the chaplain presence continues to be made available to our members at the ICP and in the field, and to those who need us, in the days, weeks and months ahead, as the aftermath of this vicious, devastating storm continues to unfold, and the long-term work of putting lives and lifestyles back in place continues.
Though we work behind the scenes and don’t get added or factored into the “press”, I am glad to say that there was CAP Chaplain Corps presence and involvement in the response mission for Hurricane Florence. I am VERY grateful to Chaplains Wayne Byerly, David Bobbey, Steven Mathews, and Deric Dunn for making the sacrifice to be “boots on the ground”, both at the ICP with me, and out in the field. I am also VERY thankful to the many CAP Chaplain Corps personnel who responded to the call, checked in, and were on standby alert, and pledged their availability for the days and weeks we expected to be engaged in this mission. We were not in the limelight — but we were there! And we are prepared to be there beyond the duration of this mission to proudly support our affected CAP personnel who reside in the affected areas, and all else who need us following this time of crisis. “Soli Deo Gloria!”
(Photograph by members of the North Carolina Wing, Civil Air Patrol: Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Marcus Taylor leads the Sunday worship service for the members of Civil Air Patrol supporting the Incident Command Post at the Headquarters of the North Carolina Wing during the response to flooding from Hurricane Florence in September 2018.)