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Calif. relief work to continue; other western U.S. units close

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (BP)–Volunteers at Southern Baptist disaster relief feeding units in California learned Jan. 15 their services may be needed for up to two more weeks, while units in other western states finished shutting down.

“It’s going to be a long-term recovery process here in California, with water still covering some communities,” said Mickey Caison of the Brotherhood Commission, serving as on-site relief coordinator. “Cleanup has begun in some of the higher elevation areas, but it will take from 10 days to two weeks in the delta areas before the work can begin there.”

The disaster response began Jan. 2 in the wake of severe flooding caused by torrential rains and heavy snows in five western states.

Caison asked Southern Baptists to continue to pray for the flooding victims, volunteers and associations and local churches who continue to minister. Pray also, he added, “the Lord will provide opportunities for spiritual growth” and witnessing throughout the affected areas.

Caison also praised the work of the state convention units involved — California, Nevada, Northwest and Utah/Idaho — whose volunteers don’t often get an opportunity to serve in the wake of disasters because of the distances involved. Local associations and churches, where coordinators prefer to locate their units, also received praise for their cooperation.

As of Jan. 15, three California feeding units had served 83,000 meals. They were located at Cooper Avenue Baptist Church, Yuba City; Trinity Baptist Church, Stockton; and the Seventh-day Adventist church in Modesto.

Elsewhere, Nevada units at Carson City and Reno closed Jan. 15 after providing 10,525 meals. The Northwest unit at Medford, Ore., closed the same day after providing 6,985 meals. A final report from Idaho is not yet available.

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.

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  • Steve Barber