HUNTINGTON, Utah (BP)–As rescue workers drill a third hole in their nine-day search to locate six coal miners trapped 1,800 feet underground at Crandall Canyon Mine, Southern Baptist disaster relief workers are busy feeding the Utah miners’ families and rescue personnel.
“Since we started last Saturday, we’ve prepared and served up to 750 meals a day,” said Wade Gayler, disaster relief director for the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention.
Gayler said the American Red Cross has asked the Utah-Idaho Baptist team to continue meal service through Sunday, Aug. 19, at 500 meals a day. On Monday, the team will start supporting The Salvation Army with up to 550 meals a day for at least four more days.
Two Utah-Idaho feeding units and a support truck are on the scene in Huntington, Utah, a small coal-mining town of 2,100 located about 112 miles south of Salt Lake City.
Gayler said an average of 10-12 volunteers are needed to serve two meals each day. They are working out of a new church plant located at the former First Baptist Church of Huntington.
“The families of the missing coal miners are staying at Huntington Junior High School and meals are being trucked to them via Red Cross emergency response vehicles,” Gayler said, adding that the families are being sequestered at the school to avoid the news media.
Because the family members are being isolated, Gayler said SBC disaster relief chaplains, on the scene, have not been able to counsel with them. Instead, chaplains are staying busy counseling the disaster relief workers.
In addition, 175 meals also are being prepared and delivered via helicopter to the Crandall Canyon Mine, where miners and rescue personnel are working around the clock at the drilling rig site near the accident, which occurred on Aug. 6.
Bob Murray, chief of Murray Energy Corp. -– co-owner and operator of the Crandall Canyon Mine -– told Associated Press a fourth hole would be drilled in the center of the mine if the third hole fails.
“After that, we are running out of possibilities,” Murray said.
Gayler said depending on what happens, the disaster relief workers could be on hand in Huntington another two weeks.
“First, we obviously pray that the missing coal miners will be found safe and sound,” Gayler said.
“But we also need Southern Baptists to pray that God will continue to provide the DR volunteers needed to feed the rescue workers and family members, and that He might open doors for us to provide eternal hope for these people -– that ultimately, we’ll have opportunities to minister and speak with people in the community about Jesus.”
Mickey Noah is a writer for the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board.