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30,000 meals served to Dennis victims as Emily approaches

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers have prepared nearly 30,000 meals for victims of Hurricane Dennis.

While many disaster relief services are winding down in Alabama and Georgia following Dennis, the American Red Cross has requested that Southern Baptist Disaster Relief officials prepare to deploy mobile kitchens units for Hurricane Emily, which is expected to strike southern Texas next week.

“We’ve been asked to bring 10 to 12 feeding units to serve in the Brownsville and Corpus Christi area,” said Terry Henderson, Southern Baptist national disaster relief director from the North American Mission Board’s disaster relief operations center near Atlanta.

“We’re in the process of gearing up for this operation now,” he said. “They’re expecting landfall by Wednesday or Thursday [July 20-21] and are predicting it will be a Category 4 hurricane once it reaches Mexico. The big concern in Texas is flooding and citizens from Mexico who will come across the border for food.”

While some feeding kitchens and cleanup crews will remain in Florida and Alabama for now, operations where most of the damage from Dennis occurred are being reduced, Henderson said.

“We’re starting to scale back in Florida. The projection is that one Georgia feeding kitchen will need to remain in through next week,” he said. “Also, Florida and Georgia have chainsaw crews working through next week in the Florida Panhandle near Milton.”

Typically, when power is restored and restaurants in an affected area reopen, the American Red Cross starts curtailing services, Henderson said. “There’s obviously lots of damage, but it’s not as massive as what was wrought by Hurricane Ivan, unless of course your house was hit.”

In addition to feeding and cleanup efforts in Florida and Alabama, volunteers from Georgia are expected to start working in southwest Georgia doing mud-out operations from flooding caused by Dennis.

Henderson said this is one of the earliest hurricane responses on record for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. The peak of the hurricane season is considered to be between August and October.

“Now we have one coming right behind [Dennis]. Potentially, this could stretch our volunteer and disaster relief resources if the season were to extend into November,” he said.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief operations based in the Alabama towns of Evergreen, Grove Hill, Flomaton and Atmore are expected to start scaling back operations starting today, Henderson said. Total meals prepared by volunteers in Alabama numbered 20,715, while chainsaw crews have completed 46 cleanup jobs. Disaster relief units and volunteers from the Oklahoma, Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama conventions responded to Alabama.

In Florida, volunteers have prepared 8,319 meals and completed three chainsaw cleanup jobs. Disaster relief units and volunteers from the Georgia and Florida conventions responded to Florida needs.

In all, 800 volunteers served in Alabama and Florida following Dennis, Henderson said.

Contributions to offset direct costs of the disaster relief response may be sent to state conventions, associations or churches responding to the effort, or to the North American Mission Board. NAMB contributions may be made online at www.namb.net/dr or mailed to the North American Mission Board, Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543.
For regular updates on Southern Baptist Disaster Relief efforts, visit www.namb.net/dr.

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  • Tim Yarbrough