BUNNELL -- Mike Kuypers took the microphone yesterday as he had
done many times during the past couple of weeks.
This time, it wasn't a media microphone. It wasn't for a news
Kuypers, director of the Florida Division of Forestry's Bunnell
district, was instead apologizing to Sunday worshipers for the
recent wildfire evacuation of Flagler County.
"I know the evacuation was a major inconvenience, but I hope
you support us in our decision," Kuypers said. "It was the best
thing to do. We thank everyone who helped with the fight. It's
been a trying month, and I just want to thank everyone for their
His unrehearsed apology and expression of appreciation received
a standing ovation from his church, First United Methodist
Church in Bunnell, where about 70 people gathered on the first
Sunday since the three-day mandatory evacuation of Flagler
Across the county, church sermons were altered to include
messages about how the fires had changed the lives of Flagler's
There was no guessing game necessary to know fire impacted the
2,000 people of Bunnell. Entering the city yesterday, signs,
thanking firefighters, were posted on homes and strung across
Church marquees also had messages of thanks and hope, or
messages with fire as the theme, such as the one outside First
Baptist Church of Bunnell: "Creating a Fire Within, 2 Kings
5:1-14, July 12."
At Kuypers' church, the Rev. Ronald McCreary's sermon was
titled "Having Come Through the Fire."
"I changed the sermon schedule this Sunday and next Sunday to