Chance, was in her Toyota Tundra following the arrows when she thought, “Thank God for the community.” “You think the government would have come out to help us country folk,” she said. “But we are still struggling.”In the week after the catastrophic Hurricane Michael, residents have watched supply trucks and federal emergency officials come through the rural town of Alford, population 400. But most of them did not stop here, where the power is still out, few have clean water and people have been sleeping outside.There are small towns facing similar fates along Michael’s destructive trail. Neighbors and churches are providing food, shelter and supplies, trying to tide them over, hoping that more government help will come.“We are starting to see some federal help, but it’s mostly church groups and more church groups that are helping,” said Mayor George Gay. Alford is in south-central Jackson County, a sprawling rural area more than three-quarters the size of Rhode Island. The county was now nearly 1,000 square miles of blown-over cotton fields and peanut farms, where random scraps of metal littered roads and forests were filled with rows of trees dismembered from their roots.On those rural roads, power lines slumped down like the bottom of jump ropes. Some houses were reduced to rubble and bricks. Gay estimated three-quarters of homes in Alford were “completely destroyed.” Others were blanketed by blue tarps. 70 percent of the rural roads and dirt roads were still obstructed by trees. It had been eight days. And residents found themselves fearing the worst.Just down the street from Chance, a man died after getting stuck under a fallen tree. It took police days to find the man, whom Chance simply knew as “Old School.” She wondered how many more lay beneath the debris. Chance followed the arrows to the Alford Community Center, where she was told residents could receive three hot meals a day from a religious group that travels from disaster to disaster to provide support. It was a stroke of luck that the group, International Gospel Outreach First Responders, was in Alford at all, volunteers said.They were heading to Marianna, a larger city 15 miles away where FEMA officials are assisting residents with disaster relief claims, when local leaders told them that a smaller town was desperate for help. If the group hadn’t come with hamburgers and spaghetti, residents here wondered whether they would have eventually gone hungry.