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Hurricane Ida response continues, partner churches needed

Feeding teams from Texas and New Mexico work together in Louisiana to feed those affected by Hurricane Ida.

JEAN LAFITTE, La. (BP) – Southern Baptists of Texas Disaster Relief volunteers have joined Southern Baptist DR teams from across the nation to serve the survivors of Hurricane Ida, which made landfall in Louisiana on Aug. 29. The first SBTC DR team deployed on the day of the storm’s landfall, heading to the Alexandria area to assist in coordinating Baptist relief for the entire state.

But while DR teams are still at work, dozens of Louisiana Baptist churches affected by Ida still need partner churches to come alongside and help them recover from the damage the storm caused. Churches can help in a number of ways, such as providing financial support or sending mission teams. Those interested can submit information through a form on the Louisiana Baptist website or reach out directly to the state convention with any questions.

Currently, SBTC DR incident management, recovery, feeding support, chaplaincy, assessment and shower/laundry crews continue to serve in Golden Meadow, La., where they are being housed at First Baptist Golden Meadow.

Recovery teams are also involved in a rebuild project at Barataria Baptist Church in Jean Lafitte, La. The Jean Lafitte rebuild was begun by volunteers from First Baptist Church Vidor, Texas, which in addition to regularly opening its facilities to DR volunteers, is also actively engaged in rebuilding projects. SBTC DR recovery and rebuild teams rotated into the area after the First Vidor crews departed.

The fellowship hall at Barataria Baptist in Jean Lafitte was literally swamped by Ida, though the church’s main building, built some 10 feet higher, escaped damage.

Zack Greer, associate minister of missions at First Baptist Pampa, Texas, and his father James Greer, director of missions for the Top O’ Texas Baptist Association, flew to New Orleans and rented an all-wheel-drive SUV in order to make their way 22 miles south to Jean Lafitte where they examined the extent of the damage yet to be resolved and called for assistance.

First Baptist Vidor’s teams had removed four feet of sheetrock and insulation to start the process of drying out Barataria Baptist’s building, James Greer told the TEXAN. The crew of 13 from Top O’ Texas, most from FBC Pampa, arrived Oct. 14 to continue the work of replacing the sheetrock and insulation.

“We have a plumber, a sheetrock guy, teachers and church leadership with us,” James Greer said, adding that the association had collected $3,000 from Top O’ Texas churches to purchase tools and equipment for Barataria Baptist so that the work of rebuilding might continue.

He complimented Barataria pastor Jeff Smith and other church staff, who ministered to their community despite the damaged facilities.

“They met the stressed-out folks with a smile and a hand of help,” Greer said of the Louisiana church personnel.

SBTC DR director Scottie Stice said teams have completed numerous deployments in response to Ida in addition to the ongoing work in the Golden Meadow and Jean Lafitte areas. He added that teams in the field are following COVID protocols.

Shower and laundry teams and units have served at West Monroe and Minden in support of shelters for evacuees, at Gonzales in support of power line crews and at Denham Springs in support of recovery workers. Feeding units deployed include quick response kitchens sent to Jean Lafitte, Kenner and Denham Springs and mass care feeding teams serving at Gonzales with the Salvation Army. SBTC DR recovery teams have also worked under the direction of Arkansas Baptist DR in Hammond and Oklahoma DR in Morgan City. SBTC DR has provided other support to Baptist DR teams from Louisiana, North Carolina and Alabama.

“The Ida deployment shows the cooperative nature of disaster relief,” Stice said, adding, “DR is a perfect illustration of cooperative missions where we come together with a common goal of serving disaster survivors.”

This article originally appeared in the Southern Baptist TEXAN. With reporting from Brandon Elrod of the North American Mission Board.