SALISBURY, Md. (BP)–Damage assessment in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene is underway in Maryland/Delaware, and volunteers from the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware’s disaster relief units and churches are already at work.
Kim Delamarter, from Bayside Baptist Church in Chesapeake Beach, Md., led the feeding unit in Salisbury, Md., where the American Red Cross staged an emergency shelter at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center.
An estimated 4,000 meals were served during the height of Hurricane Irene, Delamarter said, including meals for approximately 1,000 shelter guests, another 500 first responders and nearby zoo workers as well as for four other shelters in the region.
“We actually cooked in the Civic Center’s kitchen because the wind was blowing so hard on our [disaster relief] trailers,” Delamarter said.
Like many other volunteers, Delamarter left her own home in the path of the hurricane so she could serve in the feeding unit.
“We drove into the storm as others were driving away from it,” Delamarter said. “I think that is what we are supposed to do … help others when they need it.”
When Delamarter eventually made it back to her home, she found it had been protected from the storm, except for a power outage (estimated to last for four or five more days) and a few downed limbs.
The flood of concern expressed by Southern Baptists elsewhere in the country affirmed the value of being part of the Southern Baptist family, said David Lee, executive director of the convention.
“We have heard from so many of you assuring us of your prayers and willingness to help. We are still assessing Irene’s damage to our multi-state region. BCMD disaster relief teams are already deployed. More will most likely be needed,” Lee said. “Pray for those who are hurting. Pray for those assessing losses. Pray for the safety of those seeking to help others. Pray for those who are without hope in Christ. Pray for all who seek to love and help in Jesus’ name.”
Bruce Glisson, church administrator and pastor of outreach at nearby Allen Memorial Baptist Church, brought his family to serve at the Civic Center. Though most of his time was spent unloading and organizing food, he was able to talk with many of the residents who took shelter.
“The biggest thing that I took away from the experience was how appreciative everyone was,” Glisson said. Noting that many of those who evacuated expressed concern about losing their homes in the strong winds and rain, Glisson added: “They were so thankful.”
Kerry Hinton, disaster relief coordinator for Eastern Baptist Association, helped set up the feeding unit Aug. 26 before being deployed as a member of the National Guard.
“I am very grateful for all the volunteers and their families who came out in the pouring rain to serve others,” Hinton said.
Hinton said he has heard of only minor damage in the area, with no major problems reported in Somerset, Wicomico and Worchester Counties. Assessing recovery needs on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, he concluded, “We are very blessed here.”
Richard Logsdon, director of missions for the Potomac Baptist Association, and Mike Hayden, lead assessor for Maryland/Delaware’s disaster relief operations, presently are assessing damage in southern Maryland. Most of the initial damage they’ve seen is due to downed trees and flooding.
A tornado apparently touched down in Lewes, a beachfront town in northeastern Delaware, during the night of Aug. 27, said Jim McBride, disaster relief coordinator for Delaware. No injuries were reported, but at least 15 homes were damaged, according to www.cbsphilly.com.
Other than that, some of the more agricultural areas received some flooding, but “overall, it seems that we dodged a major bullet, in relationship to what Philadelphia and New Jersey experienced,” McBride said.
Assessment will help determine whether the Maryland/Delaware recovery unit can handle the cleanup themselves or must rely on help from a Michigan unit, which is poised to assist as needed.
Two tractor-trailers of food for the American Red Cross also are available, once disaster response leaders determine whether that food is needed for Maryland/Delaware residents or should be sent to northern states that may have a greater need, said Ellen Udovich, who oversees BCM/D ministry evangelism efforts.
“At one point on Sunday, it was estimated that 800,000 people in Maryland and 55,000 people in Delaware were without electricity,” Udovich said. She has been in constant communication with the North American Mission Board’s disaster relief operations center and with other state disaster relief directors as well as the local emergency response community.
Maryland/Delaware Baptist volunteers are calling churches in the two-state convention to ascertain needs and seek prayer requests, but with widespread power outages, many may not be able to connect, Udovich said.
Shannon Baker is a national correspondent for BaptistLIFE (www.baptistlife.com), newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware. Information about immediate needs may be relayed to (410) 590-5290, ext. 900. Updates about relief efforts in Maryland and Delaware will be posted on the BCM/D website, www.bcmd.org/hurricane-irene.