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Floyd brings increasing flooding; disaster relief units mobilize

WILMINGTON, N.C. (BP)–Rising flood waters rather than high winds became the legacy of Hurricane Floyd, a weakened storm, but still potent, that crashed ashore in North Carolina early Sept. 17. The focus of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief feeding units switched from serving evacuees to feeding victims of power outages and flooding in the storm’s wake, but further efforts were anticipated as the waters continued to rise.
“While we expected major problems with the wind, we are in the process of a developing disaster now because of flooding,” said Mickey Caison, national coordinator for Southern Baptist Disaster relief and an adult volunteer mobilization associate for the North American Mission Board. “Actually, from New England south is where we are dealing with flooding issues at this time, all the way to South Carolina.”
As of Friday, six feeding units were in the process of setting up in North Carolina. North Carolina units were being set up in Wilmington, New Bern, Lumberton, and Rocky Mount. Units in Kingston and Wilson were sponsored by Tennessee and Kentucky state conventions, respectively.
In South Carolina, feeding units were set up at First Baptist Church of North Myrtle Beach and First Baptist Church of Murrel’s Inlet. A command post to deal with future cleanup efforts was set up at First Baptist Church of Loris, an area where significant wind damage was found.
“We’re dealing right now with cleanup of trees, where we can get to them,” said Cliff Satterwhite, disaster relief coordinator for South Carolina. “The flooding will be something that we are dealing with as the water crests on Sunday and Monday.”
In Georgia, the pre-storm response occupied the most intense efforts, with all five of the state’s feeding units working at different cities to assist refugees. Jim Richardson, state disaster relief coordinator, said the response of the churches to the crisis was encouraging.
“What impressed me was the way the local churches opened up to the people that were inundating their communities, and the way they took care of people caught up in traffic all along the evacuation route,” he said.
In Swainsboro, for instance, church officials made a decision to open the facility to evacuees, providing housing and food through the disaster relief teams.
“They just started pulling in here looking for a place to stay, and we assigned them rooms to stay in and assigned different families to different rooms,” said Allen Jackson, maintenance supervisor for the church. A total of 138 people stayed at the church before returning to their homes Sept. 17.
North Carolina was most impacted by flooding, a problem that was expected to grow worse as the weekend progressed. The city of Wilmington, on the edge of the eye of the storm when it crossed, found itself largely landlocked as rising waters left most roads into town impassable Sept. 17.
“Every time there’s a storm I think it just pulls the community together,” said Mike Queen, pastor of First Baptist Church of Wilmington, which hosted Southern Baptist Disaster Relief units in its activities center. “This time most of the problems are not in Wilmington. They are outside of Wilmington in the more rural areas. I believe this time we are going to be delivering food to people further out than we’ve done before.”
At most feeding sites, Red Cross vehicles deliver meals prepared by the Southern Baptist teams to impacted families in hardest-hit areas.
Floyd is the fourth hurricane to hit Wilmington in the past four years, bringing more than 19 inches of rain — more than any of the others. “The wind damage wasn’t near what it was in Fran and Bertha, but the rain was phenomenal,” Queen said.
In addition to the Disaster Relief units already in place Sept. 17, feeding units from Illinois and Missouri were staged in Nashville, Tenn., ready to be deployed as needs required. Additionally, a unit from several Northeast state conventions was en route to the Maryland/Delaware area to assist in anticipated relief efforts there.
Contributions to help defray the costs of the relief effort may be sent to Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, North American Mission Board, 4200 North Point Parkway, Alpharetta, Ga. 30022. Further information also is available through the www.namb.net/dr web site and by calling (800) 462-8657.

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  • James Dotson