Space Coast water purifiers head to earthquake survivors

Space Coast water purifiers head to earthquake survivors

TITUSVILLE, Fla – A Saturday morning layover at the Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville was a small but crucial stop for Joe Hurston. The president of Air Mobile Ministries was once again mobilizing equipment to go to the scene of another natural disaster.

What you need to know Air Mobile Ministries is preparing to deliver 14 water purification systems to Turkey

Each system can deliver clean drinking water to 1,000 people

Joe Hurston with Air Mobile Ministries left Miami Saturday night

The stop at this airport was to inspect and pack 14 water purification kits that he and his team are building with the ministry to help repair water infrastructure, following events such as hurricanes and earthquakes.

The massive earthquake that devastated Syria and Turkey weighed heavily on his mind while he was in Tennessee earlier this week.

“72 hours ago, 1:30 in the morning, I woke up and couldn’t sleep and I wrestled with the Lord for about three hours and finally the last word was just go,” Hurston said. “It’s like we can do something. It’s a drop in the bucket, but we can do something. And if we just sit, if I put this one out, what will happen to me.”

Hurston has responded to natural disasters dating back to the earthquake that struck the island of Haiti and killed nearly a quarter of a million people. His was the first private plane to land on the island after the earthquake. Then they started building water purification kits to bring to people in hard-hit areas.

“At the moment I don’t have much time to think about it, but it’s horrible. When I go in there, I remember the smells of the dead bodies, the mass graves, the bodies being pushed in. It’s grotesque, it’s horrifying,” Hurston said. “But I try not to think much about it until we complete the mission. So, we have a lot of work to do.”

He and the team with Air Mobile Ministries have been working on it for years, updating the water purification systems they are preparing to take to Turkey. Hurston said it was a labor of love to get the kits where they are today.

“It’s been an evolution of emotions watching this machine go from a crude machine to where it is today,” Hurston said.

Each kit is capable of supporting clean drinking water for approximately 1,000 people. He said it’s a critical part of a relief effort that isn’t always talked about, but it’s always one of the most important to those on the ground.

“I don’t think people realize the first thing to go is water infrastructure. The most necessary thing is water,” said Doug Rodante, an Air Mobile Ministries pilot. “There is no electricity, there is no clean water either.”

Hurston is flying from Miami International Airport on a direct flight to Istanbul, Turkey, where he will then take a smaller plane to the hardest hit areas. That’s where he will get to work deploying these sets.

“The earthquake broke all the pipelines, which means you turn on the water, no water pressure. Then when the water pressure comes, it’s going to be full of sewage,” Huston said. “And that’s the critical point where we hope to slide our units into strategic locations when that moment comes and they need clean water.”

While this job doesn’t get any easier, Hurston said he can easily point back to a passage of scripture that he says is the basis for why he continues to do this work with his team.

“It is found in Matthew 25 and Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I was thirsty and you gave me drink.’ And they say: When did we ever see You thirsty, Lord? And he said, ‘When you did it to the least of these, you did it to me,'” Hurston said. “So, I thank God that he gave me the strength and he gave me the help and he gave me this incredible technology.”

More than 1,500 of these kits are currently in 49 countries around the world. Turkey will make 50.

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