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Ike pushes relief workers beyond million meals

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–More than 1 million hot meals have been prepared by Southern Baptist disaster relief teams since Hurricane Gustav hit the Louisiana coast on Sept. 1 and Hurricane Ike clobbered Galveston and Houston on Saturday morning.

In the wake of Ike, more than 100 Southern Baptist disaster relief units were heading into the Texas Gulf Coast Sept. 15. Once there, Baptists from about 20 state conventions -– working with the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army — will prepare another 410,000 meals per day for evacuees, victims and volunteers.

“When our feeding units get in and set up today, we expect to do significant feeding in Texas beginning Tuesday,” said Mickey Caison, director of disaster relief for the North American Mission Board.

Just since Ike struck the Galveston and Houston areas Saturday morning, Texas Baptists have prepared more than 50,000 meals at feeding sites in Marshall, Bryan and San Antonio.

Three “mega” feeding centers will be set up in League City, Baytown and at Houston’s First Baptist Church, Caison reported. The three mega feeding units alone will prepare more than 80,000 meals a day.

Ten other Texas cities or towns -– venues identified as “places of need” by either the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention or the Texas Baptist Men — are under consideration as potential feeding sites in southeast Texas. Caison said most of the Texas-based units moved into place and went into operation on Sunday.

Caison noted that some of the units are having to wait on the search and rescue operations to be completed. Then roads must be cleared before law enforcement will allow the evacuees back to their homes.

“We want to go in and get set up before the evacuees come back home. That would expedite our process. We just ask our churches to be patient,” Caison said. “We know they’re eager to get in and start helping.”

Caison noted that Ike also dumped torrential rain as it moved into the Midwest, causing serious flooding in Chicago and other parts of Illinois as well as Ohio and Indiana. “The impact of the hurricane is continuing to be felt in those areas and will be for days to come,” Caison said.

Caison announced that many disaster relief teams stationed in Louisiana have been released — including teams from New Mexico, Kansas/Nebraska, Arkansas, Arizona and Ohio. Some of these teams will go home, others will go to Texas.

“Some need to go home and rest. Others need to go back to repair equipment,” Caison said. “When you consider the ice storms back in the winter, floods in the spring and now the hurricanes, it’s been a long hard year for disaster relief in the SBC.”

In addition to the 1,000,000-plus meals provided since Gustav hit the Louisiana Gulf Coast on Sept. 1, Southern Baptist disaster relief also has completed 565 chainsaw and 18 mud-out jobs; provided more than 17,000 showers and 2,600 laundry loads; and recorded 11,368 ministry contacts, including 1,305 chaplaincy contacts, 135 Gospel presentations and 94 professions of faith.
Mickey Noah is a writer for the North American Mission Board. To donate to Southern Baptist disaster relief efforts, phone toll-free 1-866-407-6262 or visit www.namb.net.

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  • Mickey Noah