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Disaster Relief volunteers en route to La., Miss., & Ala.

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–With Hurricane Katrina having roared into three Gulf Coast states, the nation’s third largest disaster relief operation, the Southern Baptist Convention, began mobilizing the first wave of volunteers from its supply of 30,000 trained disaster volunteers Monday, Aug. 29.

“Mobile kitchens, shower units, cleanup and recovery units and communication equipment from more than 20 states are being moved today to staging areas near Memphis, Tenn., and Marshall, Texas,” said Jim Burton, volunteer mobilization director for the North American Mission Board.

“By Tuesday morning we’ll have more than two dozen disaster relief units on the road to the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The units will be manned by the first wave of SBC volunteers who are trained and committed to minister to the tens of thousands affected by this disaster.”

Burton said the American Red Cross has requested Southern Baptists to prepare 300,000 meals a day by mid-week, increasing capacity to half a million meals a day by the end of the week.

During a natural disaster, the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army depend on NAMB to coordinate the nearly 600 disaster relief units owned by churches, associations and state conventions and staffed by Southern Baptist volunteers.

“We’re working right now to determine where our units will set up in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. We’ll be able to assign units to those locations by Tuesday morning, and most of them should be in place and ready to serve hot meals by Wednesday,” Burton said.

Probable assignments include units from Tennessee, Texas Baptist Men, Louisiana and Oklahoma going to Louisiana locations including possibly Slidell, Kenner, Houma, Alexandria, Covington and Baton Rouge.

Disaster relief units from Mississippi, Georgia, Florida and Missouri will most likely be sent into Mississippi including Biloxi, Pascagoula, Gulf Shores, Hattiesburg and McComb.

The Salvation Army has requested staffing on two of their kitchens. The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and Florida are handling these requests. Units from the Ohio, Texas, Kentucky and Tennessee Baptist conventions will handle the Salvation Army’s other requests.

Units from Alabama most likely will be assigned within their own state where the coastal areas were hard hit, Burton said.

Southern Baptist disaster relief units from Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio and the Virginia Baptist Mission Board are being activated and assigned as well.

Robert E. (Bob) Reccord, NAMB president, said Southern Baptists are blessed to have one of the most experienced and well-equipped disaster relief forces in the world.

“As we pray for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, I hope every Southern Baptist will remember in prayer those from our state conventions who are rushing in now to meet these most urgent needs,” Reccord said.

Donations to support Southern Baptists’ massive mobilization may be made to the state conventions which are sending units, to the state Baptist conventions most affected by the hurricane and to NAMB which coordinates the national response. To make a donation and to stay abreast of Southern Baptist’s response, go to www.namb.net/dr.

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  • Martin King