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Disaster Relief volunteers gear up for extended flood cleanup in Ohio

NORTH CANTON, Ohio (BP)–Volunteer Southern Baptist “mud-out” specialists have been particularly busy this summer, with back-to-back flood cleanup operations Indiana and Ohio. The latest Southern Baptist Disaster Relief effort in northeastern Ohio has resulted in nearly 60 homes cleared of mud and debris in mid-August, with an expectation of several weeks of work remaining.

“Basically when we run out of volunteers is when we’re going to finish,” said Terry Henderson, national director for the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief network and incident commander for the Ohio response. “We’re going into a long-term response.”

Many of the jobs have involved cleaning out flooded basements, he said, with several crews often taking as much as a day on each house. Other homes cleaned out initially by homeowners require only disinfection.

The average number of volunteers at any one time has been about 60, Henderson said, including an Ohio mobile kitchen crew and North Carolina mobile shower unit. Among the state conventions responding or scheduled to respond are North Carolina, Maryland/Delaware, Virginia, Arkansas, Georgia and Florida.

The volunteers have been based at First Southern Baptist Church of North Canton, Henderson said, although a new base is being established this weekend at a Lutheran church in Warren.

Widespread flooding hit the area in late July, and the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief operation began in August.

The Ohio effort comes on the heels of July flood relief efforts in Indiana, which is now gearing up for a long-term rebuild by Southern Baptist construction volunteers. The effort will be similar to reconstruction in West Virginia over the past two years and earlier in North Carolina in the wake of Hurricane Floyd, said Randy Creamer, construction coordinator for the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board’s volunteer mobilization team.

Sixty-four homes were cleaned during the initial Indiana flood response, which ended July 25. Many of the volunteers who worked during that response now are participating in the Ohio effort, Creamer noted.

More than 25,000 trained volunteers currently are 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 the North American Mission Board.

Contributions for national Disaster Relief responses may be sent to the North American Mission Board, 4200 North Point Parkway, Alpharetta, GA 30022. Designated contributions for the Ohio response may also be sent to the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio, 1680 East Broad St., Columbus, OH 43203.

For regular updates on Southern Baptist Disaster Relief responses, visit www.namb.net/dr.

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  • James Dotson