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Baptists continue flood relief efforts

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. (BP)–Southern Baptists continue serving meals, clearing debris and cleaning mud out of homes after significant flooding in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

Sam Porter, disaster relief coordinator for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, said a mobile kitchen feeding unit was set up at First Baptist Church in Bartlesville, where about 300 homes were flooded.

“Some of the places you still can’t get into, so we’re getting set, ready to go,” Porter told Baptist Press July 6 from Bartlesville. “Then we’re going to have some mud-out groups to assist the church with the families, getting the flooded debris out of their houses.”

In nearby Miami, Okla., along the Kansas border, the state convention’s largest feeding unit was in operation, Porter said. More than 600 homes were damaged by water there, he said, in what could be a record flood.

The Oklahoma convention also had three associational feeding teams on standby as residents waited for water at the Lake Texoma dam along the Oklahoma-Texas line to recede.

“There’s so much rain, so much water coming out of Oklahoma,” Porter said. “That lake draws from the western third of Oklahoma, and they’re saying it will take 10 to 14 days before it will stop going over the spillway. It has only done this twice before, so this is the third time and the lake was built in 1941. There was unprecedented flooding below the dam, and actually that will cause flooding all the way to the Mississippi River in Louisiana. So it’s going to be a big, long event.”

Porter estimated there were 25 Baptist disaster relief workers in Miami and about 30 in Bartlesville last Friday, and he expected more on the ground over the weekend.

John Lucas, disaster relief coordinator for the Kansas Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists, told BP they were receiving help from Arkansas Baptists in the form of a 10,000-meal a day feeding unit at First Southern Baptist Church in Coffeyville, Kan. Though plans weren’t finalized, Lucas said Southern Baptists would be providing meals for Red Cross emergency response vehicles in a five or six county area.

First Southern Baptist Coffeyville was serving as a Red Cross shelter with about 90 people lodging there July 6, Lucas said. Church volunteers had started their own feeding operation out of their kitchen and were serving people who came to the shelter with needs.

“The church is extremely supportive and there is a large turnout of church volunteers,” Lucas said. “In the overall operation, there are over 50 Southern Baptist volunteers serving each day.”

Jim Richardson, disaster relief director for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, told BP July 9 that operations were wrapping up in that state.

“The feeding operation that we had down in Weatherford closed yesterday,” he said. “We served around 5,000 meals through that operation. We’re now down at First Baptist Church Norman in Eastland County, and we’re doing mud-out operations down there.

Gary Smith of Texas Baptist Men reported more than 13,000 meals prepared by Southern Baptists in Gainesville, Texas, as well as nearly 350 showers provided and 280 laundry loads completed for people displaced by the storms. In Haltom City, he reported 800 meals prepared.
Compiled by Erin Roach.

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