ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) — In the wake of Hurricane Irene — which has now claimed 40 lives — Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) leaders and volunteers are mobilizing for an 11-state disaster response.
Coordinated by the North American Mission Board’s disaster operations center in Alpharetta, Ga., Southern Baptists are deploying to respond in 11 states up and down the East Coast — North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont.
The American Red Cross has asked SBDR to generate the capacity to prepare and deliver 100,000 meals a day in North Carolina, 50,000 meals in Virginia, 15,000 meals in New England and 5,000 meals in New York.
— In the Tar Heel State, feeding kitchens from state conventions in North Carolina, Mississippi and Florida have deployed to provide meals for victims, responders and volunteers.
— In hard-hit New England, conventions from New England, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio will staff feeding units.
— New York and Mississippi conventions will provide feeding units in New York state.
— In Virginia, the Virginia Baptist Mission Board (VBMB) and Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia (SBCV) conventions will handle all feeding in the state. VBMB and South Carolina are providing five shower and laundry units for Virginia.
Because Hurricane Irene turned out to be more of a rain event than a wind event, SBDR mud-out teams are in heavy demand to assist victims whose homes were flooded in some areas where as much as 14 inches of rainfall were recorded.
North Carolina has requested 10 chainsaw and 10 mud-out teams. Seven chainsaw teams — four from Mississippi and three from Arkansas — already are headed to North Carolina, with four more teams from the two states on standby. In all, North Carolina DR leaders have requested 20 recovery teams.
VBMB is providing three shower and laundry units in Lawrenceville and Warsaw, Va., while the Maryland/Delaware convention has asked for four chainsaw teams and two assessors to survey damage there.
Needs are still being assessed in New Jersey and Vermont, where massive flooding has caused entire towns to be stranded by overflowing creeks and rivers that washed out roads and bridges.
As if the SBDR response to Hurricane Irene wasn’t challenging enough, work continues for the seventh week in Minot, N.D., where June floods ravaged that city of 40,000.
“We can’t forget about the serious situation and the needs of flood victims in Minot,” Caison noted. A full complement of mud-out, feeding and shower/laundry volunteers currently are working in Minot, where SBDR volunteers have worked 4,600 volunteer days to provide some 114,000 meals and complete 117 mud-out jobs.
But dozens of mud-out crews — representing many state DR teams over the past six weeks — have only been able to complete about a fourth of the total requests for mud-out by Minot homeowners. Caison said mud-out work in Minot must be completed before the end of September, when colder temperatures come to the North Dakota area.
SBDR assets encompass 82,000 trained volunteers, including chaplains, and some 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, child care, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the largest mobilizers of trained, credentialed disaster relief volunteers in the United States, including the Red Cross and Salvation Army.
Southern Baptists and others who want to donate to disaster relief operations can contact their respective state conventions or, for NAMB’s disaster relief fund, go to www.namb.net/disaster-relief-donations and hit the “donate” button. Other ways to donate are to call 1-866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Donations can also be sent via texting “NAMBDR” to the number “40579.” A one-time donation of $10 will be added to the caller’s mobile phone bill or deducted from any prepaid balance.
Mickey Noah writes for the North American Mission Board.