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Carmen K. Sisson

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Houston volunteers ‘put some legs’ on their faith

KATY, Texas -- Hurricane Harvey's impact will be felt in this flood-weary state for many months to come as homeowners struggle to put their lives back together. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) crews remain on the scene, even as others deploy to Florida for Hurricane Irma response. Shady, tree-lined neighborhoods are a maze of mismatched dinette sets and children's toys. Stores are de facto shelters, diners, and one-stop shops for donations and disaster assistance forms. Hotel rooms are at such a premium that displaced residents memorize front desk numbers and scour the Internet, hoping to catch an elusive, available room.

‘God sent them,’ flooded homeowner says of Baptists

HOUSTON (BP) -- Paul Matlock, 73, was sitting in his yard, staring into the distance, overwhelmed, when Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers arrived. Floodwater from Hurricane Harvey had climbed more than six feet inside his home; it was chest high when he managed to escape with his wife Diana, 63, and their toy fox terrier. They had flooded twice before but never this badly. They knew when they left that they would probably lose almost everything they owned. And the sight when they returned confirmed it.

Baptist students, 450 strong, aid flood survivors

DENHAM SPRINGS, La. (BP) -- John Whitehead woke to an unfamiliar sight in mid-August -- water had breached his house and was rising fast. The Louisiana State University student panicked for a few minutes, facing tough decisions. What should he save and what should he leave behind? In the end, the answer was simple. Muddy water lapped against his waist as he struggled to heave his black Labrador retriever Rascal into his kayak. Then, he paddled away from everything he and his family owned in Denham Springs near Baton Rouge, knowing they would never see most of it again.

SBDR brings stability to La. flood survivors

DENHAM SPRINGS, La. (BP) -- The stench of floodwater filled the air, mingling with a hint of mold. Kim Rowland, a volunteer with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, remained undaunted. One by one, she pulled items from the lower cabinet -- a crockpot filled with water the color of thin gumbo, fine china spattered with mud and glass baking dishes frosted with sediment. All remnants of a mid-August flood that swept through Louisiana without mercy, leaving 13 people dead and damaging more than 100,000 homes in 20 parishes. Immediately, SBDR sprang into action. ...

Baptist DR volunteers witness power of community

BATON ROUGE, La. (BP) -- Jerry Ritter's Tuesday began at 4 a.m., but he was still brimming with enthusiasm as the sun slipped low, closing another day of flood relief in Baton Rouge, La. Ritter, a member of Blackgum First Baptist Church in Vian, Okla., arrived in Louisiana last week with other members of a Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) kitchen crew. Though his body was tired, he considered the hard day's work to be a blessing. He gazed across the parking lot of Istrouma Baptist Church, watching as each trained volunteer fulfilled a vital role in getting supper -- hamburgers and baked beans -- to those in need. He had another mission for the evening -- accompanying the American Red Cross (ARC) on meal delivery.

DR ‘angels’ continue to aid La. flood survivors

BATON ROUGE, La. (BP) -- Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers continue flood recovery efforts across south Louisiana, coping with intermittent rain as they tear out insulation, sweep mud from houses and carry buckets of sodden clothing to curbs. Few areas were left unscathed last week when nearly 7 trillion gallons of rain fell, killing 13 people and damaging more than 60,000 homes in 20 parishes. State officials estimate the damages will exceed $20 billion, making the 500-year flood event one of the worst disasters to strike the United States since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.