“I trusted God through the whole storm and He has a plan for me, so I’m not afraid of the future. We’re just exhausted from the emotions,” she said.
Nestled along the St. Andrews Bay, is the historic neighborhood of St. Andrews, known for its quaint shops and home to free-spirited locals, like Joan “GG” Canal.
Still reeling two weeks after Hurricane Michael, debris from buildings and trees line the streets of St. Andrews. GG was cleaning out her vintage boutique that was heavily damaged by the storm, when Salvation Army Major Clarine Meitrott stopped by with a hot lunch and words of support.
“The amount of love from people like you with something like a warm meal is contagious,” GG said with tears in her eyes. “I hope the spirit lives on here in St. Andrews; the spirit of love that got us through the storm and is getting us through each day right now.”
Major Meitrott is among a team of Salvation Army officers from the US and Canada who are providing emotional and spiritual care to hurricane survivors like GG throughout the Panama City area. The two women spoke at length and prayed together on the sidewalk in front of GG’s shop.
Although it would be some time before her business reopens, GG remains optimistic about life. She shares her messages of hope with the community through the words painted on signs in front of her store. One simply reads, “We will rebuild.” And on the plywood used to board up her broken store windows, she painted, “Psalm 57:1.” (Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy, for in You my soul takes refuge. In the shadow of Your wings I will take shelter until the danger has passed.)
“We’re glad we are still standing and give God all the glory, praise and honor due Him,” GG said.
Since Hurricane Michael made landfall, The Salvation Army has made 26,916 emotional and spiritual care contacts with survivors, a vital service in catastrophic events. Not all impacts of natural disasters are visible. The Salvation Army addresses the stress of disaster survivors and first responders with emotional support and spiritual care. Whether it’s lending a listening ear, offering a hug, joining together in prayer, or simply being present, providing spiritual comfort is the heart of The Salvation Army’s mission.