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Disaster Relief units respond to flooding, tornadoes


ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Deadly floods that devastated areas of southern West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky beginning May 2 have prompted activation of ten Southern Baptist Disaster Relief units from six states to help with meals and the early stages of cleanup.

Other units, meanwhile, have been busy in several other critical areas, including a response to killer tornadoes that slammed through several states April 28. A Maryland/Delaware mobile kitchen continues to work in La Plata, Md., — which was struck by a powerful tornado. Also on the scene are two chainsaw units from Alabama and one from North Carolina, with other units on standby. State units have responded to other tornadoes in Gum County, Tenn.; Calhoun, Ga., and North Canton, Ohio.

Lloyd Jackson, a layman from Richmond, Va., who was serving as incident commander for the West Virginia flooding response based in Bluefield, W.Va., characterized the impact of the flooding as “extremely high.”

“The damage assessment still hasn’t been completed by either government agencies or Red Cross, because there are still areas where you can’t get a vehicle in,” he said.

A Virginia mobile kitchen unit was the first to respond May 3 in Grundy, Va., in the far western part of the state. Those volunteers are working in association with the American Red Cross (ARC) to prepare meals for victims and rescue workers.

A mobile kitchen unit from North Carolina also is working with the ARC in Bluefield, W.Va., and an Ohio unit is working with the Salvation Army in Kimball, W.Va. A unit from Michigan was en-route to the area the morning of May 7 for Williamson, W.Va. More units were likely to be activated as well, according to Sandy Lenahan, coordinator of the North American Mission Board’s volunteer mobilization center.


Cleanup and recovery efforts also are ramping up quickly, with Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina teams working with initial assessment and cleanup.

Kentucky mobile kitchen and mud-out units also have been mobilized to flooded areas in the eastern part of the state.

The floods, prompted by more than four inches of rain over some areas during a six-hour period on May 2, have killed at least six people — with another 10 reported missing, according to earlier news reports. It is an especially hard blow to a region subjected to heavy flooding less than a year ago that resulted in $190 million in federal and state aid to residents in 24 counties.

In other ongoing responses, mobile kitchen volunteers also continue to prepare meals for recovery workers in New York City in cooperation with the Salvation Army. Volunteers are based at “Ground Zero” in lower Manhattan and at the debris landfill in Staten Island. Currently serving are volunteers from Tennessee, New York and California. Others from Florida, Minnesota/Wisconsin, Alabama, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Missouri are scheduled through the end of May.

More than 23,000 trained volunteers are currently part of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief network nationwide. The units generally are owned and operated by state conventions and local associations and coordinated nationally by NAMB.