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Baptist relief teams at work in hard-hit western states

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (BP)–Southern Baptist volunteers from five western state conventions remain active in disaster relief efforts in areas hit by flooding there since New Year’s Day.

Many of the 125,000 people forced from their homes in central California began returning over the weekend as officials lifted earlier evacuation orders. However, others are being evacuated for the first time as new breaks appear in the area’s elaborate levee system.

As a result, two of California’s mobile disaster units are living up to their names. Some 35,000 meals had been served to evacuees at the high school in Sutter, Calif., since Jan. 1, but one unit is being relocated Jan. 7 to Yuba City and the other to the Modesto/Stockton area.

California also has a feeding kitchen and child care unit operating at Grass Valley. Through Jan. 6, more than 4,000 meals and care for 70 children had been provided.

About 40 inches of rain fell on areas of California the week of New Year’s, followed by rising temperatures that melted snow in the Sierra Nevada. Heavy rain and snow also devastated parts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and western Nevada.

Tom Bacon, Nevada’s disaster relief director, reported his units had provided more than 4,300 meals as of noon Sunday, Jan. 5. Feeding locations are at First Baptist and Capital City Baptist churches in Carson City and at the National Guard Armory in Reno.

In the Northwest Baptist Convention area, a unit from Juniper Baptist Association has been joined by volunteers from Interstate Baptist Association (Portland, Ore.) and volunteers from area churches in providing meals at the National Guard Armory in Medford, Ore. They have served more than 2,200 meals since Jan. 4.

In Idaho, two Southern Baptist disaster relief centers have been opened to assist displaced people. Located at Calvary Baptist in Weiser and First Southern Baptist in Emmett, the centers will provide food baskets, water and other items for delivery to remote areas by van.

The Brotherhood Commission coordinates multi-state disaster response on behalf of all Southern Baptists. The American Red Cross estimates Southern Baptist volunteers have prepared 80 percent of the meals served under ARC auspices since Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

The response to Hurricane Andrew in August 1992 stands as the largest in the ministry’s 27-year history. Feeding and child care units were called into service, with 10,000 volunteers providing 2.6 million meals and care for hundreds of children in south Florida and Louisiana.

Contributions in support of the disaster relief effort may be made to the Brotherhood Commission, 1548 Poplar Ave., Memphis, TN 38104.

    About the Author

  • Steve Barber