Duty called Karen Pierce, even from her Red Cross–provided cot in the hallway of an elementary school where she found shelter from Hurricane Florence’s deadly winds and rains.

The Hampstead Ward Relief Society president knew people were depending upon her. “So I pulled out my ward list of single sisters and started calling. … I wanted them to know that someone was thinking about them, that they were not alone.”

Pierce deflects any praise for her actions. She agrees the circumstances of her ministering were far from ideal. The storm displaced her for several days. She was sleeping and eating in a public shelter.

“But I felt very blessed,” she told the Church News. She was safe. She was dry. She could serve.

Local Relief Society leaders in North Carolina such as Pierce are playing key roles in making life a bit easier for fellow ward members and neighbors affected by Hurricane Florence. They will be relied upon even more in the coming days and weeks as Latter-day Saints recover from a catastrophe that has claimed more than 30 lives, forced legions into shelters, and left hundreds of thousands without power.

North Carolina Wilmington Stake President David Glew said the minute-to-minute efforts of Pierce and other “outstanding Relief Society leaders” in his besieged stake are ministering to many in need.

“It’s going to be a long recovery for our members, but their faith and resilience are amazingly strong,” he said.

Members of the Wilmington 2nd Ward have been staggered by a one-two punch from Florence and subsequent flooding. Relief Society president Rosemary Abrams said many families in her ward are experiencing significant flooding in their homes. But by combining forces, the priesthood and Relief Society members have been quick to respond.

“There’s a lot of service going on,” she said.

Relief Society sisters are delivering food and water to families and making frequent welfare visits. Abrams counts herself among the lucky homeowners in waterlogged Wilmington. She has plenty of food and water, and the damage to her property was limited to a few fallen trees.

“But there are other sisters who have eight inches of water in their homes or they have cars that won’t start because of the flooding,” she said.

Hurricane Florence may be history, but inundated waterways remain grave concerns. On Tuesday, 16 rivers across North Carolina were reportedly at major flood stage. The Cape Fear River near downtown Wilmington was expected to crest Tuesday.

“We’re going to have an awful lot of work to do” in the coming days and weeks, said Pierce.

Pam Meadows, the president of the Wilmington 1st Ward Relief Society, said the sisters and priesthood brethren in her ward are also working together to ensure fellow members have adequate food, water, and fuel.

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