ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) — Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams in three state conventions are involved in ministry efforts following major Midwest flooding over the past week that has claimed four lives in the region.
Heavy mid-April rainfall has kept rivers in Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Indiana and Michigan in flood stage, according to the National Weather Service. With more rain and snow expected on Wednesday (April 26), North Dakota and other states also may be at risk.
The suburbs surrounding Grand Rapids, Mich., have sustained some of the region’s most substantial flood damage. Though the worst may be over for the area, the flooding of the last week has left many homes under water and in need of mud-out work.
“The places that are affected are bad because people are under water and can’t get to their homes,” said Win Williams, disaster relief director for the Baptist Convention of Michigan. “But people have accepted it and many are staying with friends and relatives.”
Williams said the Michigan convention doesn’t know how many homes have been affected but projected that help from additional volunteers from other state conventions will be needed once a final count of damaged homes has been determined.
The state convention also has deployed a feeding unit to Anchor Baptist Church in Grand Rapids. The feeding unit began serving food on Monday. A 12-person feeding unit currently is preparing 200 meals a day at the church for distribution by the American Red Cross.
Bob Hayes, the feeding unit’s team leader, asked Southern Baptists to pray for additional volunteers if those numbers increase.
“In addition to preparing the 200 dinners we’ll ship out today, we’re setting up the kitchen outdoors,” said Hayes, a member of First Baptist Church in South Lyon, Mich. “We’re currently set up in the church kitchen. That’s OK if we’re feeding 200 but we anticipate the number to go up.”
Two Missouri Baptist Convention teams currently are involved in mud-out work in De Soto, Mo. Another mud-out team is expected to be on the ground Thursday (April 25).
Dwain Carter, disaster relief coordinator for the Missouri Baptist Convention, said state teams have been involved in relief efforts for much of the past two weeks. The recent efforts began after three tornado touchdowns April 10 caused damage in the St. Louis suburbs of Hazelwood, Florissant and Alton. Carter said Missouri Baptists had made 176 ministry contacts and 32 Gospel presentations through those ministry efforts.
“We want to be the shining light for not only Missouri Baptists but Southern Baptists,” Carter said. “We want to be what they’re proud of when it comes to advancing and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus.”
Illinois Southern Baptists, meanwhile, have set up a feeding unit at Woodland Baptist Church in Peoria, currently preparing 1,000 meals a day. Rex Alexander, team leader for specialized missions mobilization at the Illinois Baptist State Association, said the state’s first mud-out team is expected to arrive in Versailles, Ill., on Friday. The state has declared 44 counties disaster areas.
The State Convention of Baptists in Indiana also is assessing flood recovery needs.
From its disaster operations center in Alpharetta, Ga., NAMB coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters through a partnership between NAMB and the Southern Baptist Convention’s 42 state conventions, most of which have their own state disaster relief programs.
SBDR assets include 82,000 trained volunteers, including chaplains, and some 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, childcare, 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.
Southern Baptists and others who want to donate to the disaster relief operations can contact their state conventions or contribute to NAMB’s disaster relief fund via namb.net/disaster-relief-donations. Other ways to donate are to call 1-866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.”
Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).