JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Christian Examiner) — Florida Gov. Rick Scott joined worship at First Baptist Jacksonville Sunday, Oct. 9 where he noted power crews were working around the clock to restore electricity to residents throughout the state who lost power due to the impact of Hurricane Matthew.
Later, he also took time to recognize two faith-based ministries he said who have stepped up to care for their neighbors in the face of Hurricane Matthew's damaging forces – Florida Baptist Disaster Relief ministries and The Salvation Army.
Pastor Mac Brunson welcomed Scott to the pulpit to reassure North Florida residents he was doing all he could to work with Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA), Mayor Lenny Curry, and local authorities to assist in areas affected by the storm.
"I am working hard to get your power back," Scott told congregants, explaining he is a Christian believer who was looking for a place to worship on Sunday.
Florida did not experience a direct hit Oct. 8 although Matthew danced up the coast unleashing Category 3 and 4 strength winds, creating a huge storm surge which wiped out sand dunes, flooded coastal areas, and left trees, limbs and debris across power lines from South Florida upwards to the Georgia line and beyond.
At the height of the storm, a reported 1.1 million customers lost power, and as of Sunday nearly half of those people were still without power with most of those in Duval County which is where Jacksonville is located.
Brunson said he was shocked when he walked into the church still in darkness on Saturday and found no water. It could have been worse, he told those gathered for worship, reminding them that a hailstorm just a few months ago revealed weaknesses in the roof which have since been repaired.
"God sends storms for a reason," Brunson said.
Scott later told Christian Examiner he believed his prayers were answered when the storm did not directly hit the state, but stayed offshore.
"I always believed that God has a plan for everything and [my] job is to do the job God gave [me] and I try to do my job every day," he said.
GOVERNOR THANKS FAITH-BASED MINISTRIES FOR ASSISTANCE
Scott identified The Salvation Army and Florida Baptist Disaster Relief ministries as two faith-based agencies that have made a difference during recent flooding in the state – and in the initial stages of this emergency.
Faith-based ministries and churches have a good track record and have "shown up" the governor said, to operate shelters and provide food, so far.
"Churches always show up ... in helping people [and] with food," Scott said. "Just like the pastor said here today, 'If there's some need, tell us and we'll see if we can help you.'"
Following Florida's historic hurricane season in 2004-2005 then Florida Baptist Disaster Relief director Fritz Wilson was honored by then Gov. Jeb Bush with the Governor's Distinguished Service Award for his leadership role in disaster responses.
Scott told Christian Examiner he is thankful for the assistance.
"Government can't solve every problem. People solve problems and churches solve problems," he said. "I'm very pleased at what our churches do and Christians do to take care of other people."
With beach erosion, condemned homes, blocked roads and power outages throughout the coast and some areas inland, Scott urged caution.
"You've got to be careful," he said.