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Carolina floods draw Southern Bapt. response

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) — Millennial floodwaters from Hurricane Joaquin covered much of Columbia, Charleston and other parts of South Carolina Oct. 3-4, killing as many as nine people, shutting down interstates and spurring scores of evacuations. With more rain and flash flooding expected today (Oct. 5), Southern Baptists are preparing to help.

Up to four more inches of rain were forecast across the Carolinas, according to the National Weather Service. Columbia suffered its rainiest 24-hour period in history Oct. 4, the weather service said, with reports of up to two feet of rain common across the state.

For South Carolina native Mickey Caison, interim executive director for the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR), the tragedy is especially troubling.

“My heart breaks as I see the historic flooding in my home state of South Carolina,” Caison said. “I have seen pictures of Providence Baptist Church and the home where my family lived while I served as pastor there. It is in the middle of flood waters. I am praying for those in leadership as they mount the massive response that will be required.”

South Carolina Emergency Management Division had attributed at least nine weather-related deaths to the rain and flooding as of Oct. 4. Eight counties or cities in the state have issued overnight curfews, according to the office.

With the road and bridge infrastructure damage, logistics as simple as travel will pose challenges. Caison and SBDR leaders are working on solutions.

“The major problem is the large number of roads and bridges that are washed out,” Caison said. “As soon as possible, we will be moving equipment and volunteers into the affected areas. Please be in prayer for those affected, as well as disaster relief leaders and volunteers as we bring help, healing and hope.”

NAMB SBDR coordinators Eddie Blackmon and Cathy Miller are deploying to South Carolina to assist the response. Miller will assist South Carolina SBDR in the command post. Blackmon will assist the state as liaison with the American Red Cross.

In addition, NAMB will mobilize today two semi-trucks with supplies. NAMB will also deploy two recovery trailers as soon as roads in the areas are open. Like so many other facilities, the South Carolina Baptist Convention office building is nearly cut off at this time with flooded roads, Caison said.

Caison noted Southern Baptists can help now by providing funds for flood survivors. In partnership and support of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, NAMB will:

— purchase supplies and materials to clean out homes and churches;

— purchase food, supplies and housing for volunteers mudding out homes and churches;

— assist families with special needs and repair of homes;

— purchase fuel and supplies to operate trucks and equipment;

— assist churches with grants to clean their facilities or cover income losses;

— provide for warehousing and transportation of supplies and materials, and

— provide rental equipment to support mud-out operations.

“We are praying for the people of South Carolina and across the Atlantic states,” Kevin Ezell, NAMB president, said. “We will support our partners in providing aid to the hurting and assistance for the devastating losses. People are grieving the loss of family and friends. Homes, schools, businesses and churches are flooded. Southern Baptist will be there to help bring healing.”

Those wishing to donate to SBDR relief can contact the Baptist convention in their state or visit donations.namb.net/dr-donations. For phone donations, call 1-866-407-NAMB (6262), or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.”

NAMB coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters through partnerships with 42 state Baptist conventions, most of which have their own state disaster relief ministries.

Southern Baptists have 65,000 trained volunteers — including chaplains — and 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 three largest mobilizers of trained Disaster Relief volunteers in the United States, along with the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

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  • Joe Conway