News Articles

Heavy rains trigger Ga. relief response

SUMMERVILLE, Ga. (BP)–In the first step of what may be a lengthy cleanup from flooding in north Georgia and metro Atlanta, a Georgia Baptist feeding unit from the Marietta-based Noonday Baptist Association set up operations at First Baptist Church in Summerville on Tuesday (June 22).

“We’ve done about all we can do right now,” said Stuart Lang, director for Georgia Baptist disaster relief. “We’ll wait a few days for the water to go down so we can assess the cleanup. Our feeding unit is currently preparing meals for those displaced. We’ll continue to monitor the situation and address needs as they’re made known to us.”

Checking into damage to Georgia Baptist churches has brought its own difficulties, Lang added.

“Our people are out looking, but with so many roads closed it’s difficult for us to get to some of these areas. There are isolated pockets all around with damage. We’re encouraging those who see damage to contact their associational missionary. They know the area and can help us zero in on particular areas in need of assistance.”

The feeding unit at First Baptist Summerville began its efforts with lunch on Tuesday to residents of Trion, Ga., where water from the Chattooga River crested a levee, prompting the evacuation of more than 1,500 residents.

Frogtown, a mill town in a flood plain with a large Hispanic population, got the brunt of the rising water, according to witnesses. Local churches of various denominations were working together to provide shelter and food, said Randy Smith, interim associational missionary for the Chattooga Baptist Association.

Jimmy Weaver, pastor of Dry Branch Baptist Church in Summerville, said apartments bordering the Chattooga were flooded. “They had to be evacuated,” he noted. “There were several closed roads around the mill.

“However, people are handling it well. Churches are coming together to help people as best they can. Last night a Hispanic church used our facilities to prepare meals for their people.”

In addition to partnering churches, Georgia Baptist disaster relief is working in conjunction with the Red Cross.

Steady rain since Sept. 14 turned heavy over the weekend before peaking Sept. 21 as torrents clogged Atlanta’s Monday morning commute. Two feet of water met travelers at “Spaghetti Junction,” a heavily traveled section where I-85 intersects with I-285. Rainfall amounts for that day alone, according to the National Weather Service, ranged from 9 to 12 inches in western areas of metro Atlanta. By the end of the day, several more sections of interstate lay underwater.

Water entered the auditorium of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, where SBC President Johnny Hunt is pastor. No damage estimates were available at press time.

Although the low pressure system that brought the extended rainfall is expected to move out by the end of the week, the view from Smith’s window at the Chatooga association brought little immediate comfort Tuesday.

“[It’s] raining as hard as it’s ever been in the past few days,” he said.
Scott Barkley is production manager for The Christian Index (www.christianindex.org), newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention.