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‘Milestone’ reached in Katrina response as Rita grows

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–More than 3.5 million meals have been prepared by Southern Baptist Disaster Relief following Katrina as some volunteers in Louisiana and Mississippi are evacuated in preparation for another possible assault on the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Rita.

“Southern Baptists have reached a milestone in Hurricane Katrina with 3.5 million prepared meals. This surpasses the previous record of 2.5 million prepared meals in Hurricane Andrew in 1992,” said Jim Burton, director of volunteer mobilization at the North American Mission Board (NAMB).

“What’s even more remarkable about the current response in the Gulf states is that Southern Baptists reached this milestone in about three weeks.”

Burton said Hurricane Rita’s approach has resulted in evacuation plans being made for many units currently deployed in Louisiana and Mississippi. Meanwhile, the American Red Cross has asked Southern Baptist Disaster Relief to gear up to prepare 120,000 meals a day in Texas to assist in post-Katrina efforts there.

“We are already engaged in the largest natural disaster in recent U.S. history,” Burton said. “To now gear up for another hurricane when there is so much more work to do in the Gulf … that’s going to be tough, [but] we have the capacity to respond to both.”

Rita is being watched closely by forecasters who predict its path to be the Gulf of Mexico and possibly areas battered by Katrina.

More than 5,000 Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers from 36 state conventions have served in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia following Katrina. Mobile disaster relief units activated number 260 with 240 units still on site, including 56 mobile feeding units, 32 shower units, 36 recovery units and 22 chain saw units deployed to affected areas.

Southern Baptist volunteers prepare most of the meals distributed by the American Red Cross as well as provide cleanup and recovery, communications, childcare and other vital disaster services. Southern Baptists are the third-largest disaster relief operation in the country behind the Red Cross and The Salvation Army, with more than 30,000 trained volunteers on call for local, state and national emergencies.

A webcast briefing about Southern Baptist Disaster Relief efforts is available at www.namb.net. Disaster relief information is posted regular at www.namb.net/dr.

Contributions to offset direct costs of the disaster relief response may be sent to state conventions, associations or churches responding to the effort or to the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Fund. Donations to Southern Baptist Disaster Relief may be made online at www.namb.net or by calling 1-888-571-5895. Alternately, contributions can be mailed to the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, North American Mission Board, Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543.
EDITORS’ NOTE: Baptist state conventions responding with equipment and volunteers following Hurricane Katrina are Alabama, Louisiana, Ohio, Maryland, Arizona, Delaware, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Michigan, Pennsylvania-South Jersey, Minnesota-Wisconsin, South Carolina, Colorado, Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida, Missouri, both Texas conventions, Georgia, Montana, Illinois, New England, Utah-Idaho, Indiana, New Mexico, both Virginia conventions, Kansas-Nebraska, North Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, Northwest and Wyoming.

    About the Author

  • Tim Yarbrough