By BosNewsLife Americas Service
TALLAHASSEE/WASHINGTON (BosNewsLife)-- Crisis-trained chaplains associated with veteran evangelists Billy Graham and his son Franklin are rushing to the southeastern United States following the massive destruction left by Hurricane Irma, one of the largest recorded storms in U.S. history.
"Early assessments estimate coastal communities in Florida will experience catastrophic damage similar to what has already been seen across the Caribbean," explained the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team in a statement to BosNewsLife.
In a state that is home to more than 20 million Americans, Florida Governor Rick Scott said, "All Floridians should prepare to evacuate."
Coastal regions of Georgia and South Carolina are also under mandatory evacuation, though Hurricane Irma was reportedly somewhat losing and gaining strength.
"The destructive power of Hurricane Irma, especially on the immediate heels of Hurricane Harvey, reminds us of how fragile our lives really are," said Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team.
He said he had asked Christians to "join us in praying for all of those who are in the path of this storm, many of whom will spend months or years - perhaps even the rest of their lives - trying to work through the physical and emotional suffering they will endure. We'll be there to offer the hope and comfort of Jesus Christ as they begin to find their 'new normal.'"
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team said it has been in touch with all of the "crisis-trained chaplains living in Florida", and more than 100 chaplains-living outside of the projected hurricane path-"who are on standby to deploy once the storm has passed, water has receded and areas are declared safe to enter."
With "significant ministry resources" already committed to Texas following Hurricane Harvey, a "Billy Graham Rapid Response Team Mobile Ministry Center" from its affilated office in Calgary, Canada, is already en route to North Carolina, the group said.
The team was to be staged for deployment alongside Samaritan's Purse, the Christian disaster relief organization also headed by evangelist Franklin Graham. "Together the two ministries will address the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of those who have been affected."
With all eyes now on Irma, there are no plans to reduce the presence of chaplains in Texas where over 100 chaplains "are currently ministering to those affected by Hurricane Harvey," the grouo said.
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team was developed by Franklin Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association following the terror attacks in the United States of September 11, 2001.
It has since grown into an international network of chaplains in the U.S., Britain, Canada and Australia who are specifically trained to deal with crisis situations. They have deployed to more than 260 disaster sites, including shootings, floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and tornadoes, according to the group's estimates.