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Gordon’s Gulf flood risks put DR volunteers on alert

JACKSON, Miss. (BP) — Anticipated flooding from Tropical Storm Gordon has Southern Baptist volunteers on alert in three Gulf Coast states, and may extend responses in the already-flooded Midwest as Gordon moves inland.

The storm will likely intensify to a Category 1 hurricane as it comes ashore between western Alabama and eastern Louisiana this evening (Sept. 4), the Weather Channel reported, but will quickly weaken again to a tropical storm as it moves inland, perhaps over Arkansas.

In Mississippi, where a moderate (20 percent) risk of flash flooding covers the largest swath of land among the four states in Gordon’s coastal path, the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (MBCB) had already sent a trailer load of blue tarps to southern counties when Baptist Press spoke with Shane McGivney today (Sept. 4).

“I have placed our Mississippi Disaster Relief Task Force (of 170 trained volunteers) on alert and we’re on standby to respond post-storm,” said McGivney, MBCB director of men’s ministry and disaster relief. “I reached out to my associational mission directors that are on the coast; they’ll get the first brunt of the impact with the high winds and the surge. I just let them know that we’re on standby and if we can help them in any way, we’re ready.”

Gordon could drench Mississippi with as many as eight inches of rain in some locations, push about five feet of water ashore from the Gulf of Mexico, and drop as many as 10 inches of rain in some areas, the Weather Channel said.

Midwestern residents hundreds of miles inland, already suffering flooding from intense rainfall, could get even more rain as Gordon’s remnants linger inland, forecasters said.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR), a ministry of the North American Mission Board (NAMB), is available to help, director Sam Porter told BP.

“My main concern for this storm is not mass destruction from wind and storm surge, but the continued rain,” Porter said. After hitting the coastal states, Gordon is forecast to “travel across Arkansas then wrap back around the Mississippi and Ohio river valley region that already has flooding issues.” Volunteers will begin responding to flooding in Minnesota and Wisconsin today, Porter said, as volunteers continue to help flooding victims in the Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey.

Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama governors have declared states of emergency, but minimal storm damage is expected.

“We are really not anticipating a lot of damage; we’re hopeful,” McGivney told BP. “But you never know if tornadoes will spawn off of the hurricane, so that’s always a problem, and then of course flooding in low-lying areas.”

Mississippi has 1,170 trained volunteers across the state who have training certifications that must be updated every three years, McGivney said.

Marginal (5 percent) to moderate risks of flash flooding extends from the westernmost Florida Panhandle to eastern Louisiana, and north into the lower half of Arkansas, the National Hurricane Center forecast today.

In Louisiana, Southern Baptists are bracing for rainfall on already saturated ground, Gibbie McMillan told BP today.

“It is early to say what the damage will be,” said McMillan, who handles Louisiana disaster relief as men’s ministry leader and volunteer strategist. “We have previously had a lot of rain and in many areas the ground is saturated, which will allow trees to be blown over without much effort. So we are sharpening our chainsaws and have placed our people on alert. We will be ready to respond when the need arises.”

Gordon drenched southern Florida Monday (Sept. 3) with as many as 10 inches of rain before advancing to the state’s panhandle today, the NWS reported, leaving no damage nor deaths in its wake there, the Florida Division of Emergency Management told Reuters. Gov. Rick Scott has not declared a state of emergency.

Street flooding from 10 inches of rain in Galveston, Texas, on Labor Day (Sept. 3) was unrelated to Gordon, the NWS told the Associated Press Monday.