SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (BP)–Three California Southern Baptist Convention mobile kitchens and a portable shower unit have been deployed in Southern California to minister to those affected by wildfires raging throughout the region.
The ministries marked the initial stages of a response that Southern Baptist Disaster Relief officials say will involve volunteers from multiple states.
Don Hargis, disaster relief coordinator for the California convention, reported that one of the mobile kitchens and a portable shower unit have been stationed at the San Bernardino Airport, one of the region’s key shelters, with more than 1,800 people displaced by the fires. Southern Baptist volunteers prepared 2,000 meals each for lunch and dinner on Oct. 29. Another 100 people are housed at an overflow shelter at Immanuel Baptist Church in Highland.
Two other mobile kitchen units were sent to the San Diego area on Oct. 29 and were expected to be operational by Oct. 30. Each of the California Southern Baptist mobile kitchens is capable of preparing 15,000 meals per day.
Joel Phillips, off-site coordinator for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, said an incident response team is being organized to coordinate the deployment of volunteers from across the country. Mobile kitchen units from Oklahoma and New Mexico have been placed on standby status for deployment.
Hargis also said Southern Baptist cleanup and recovery teams would probably be recruited to help families who have lost homes clear their property. Those volunteers could begin work in about a week, he said.
“With 1,000 volunteers, the proper equipment and cooperation of city, county and state agencies, we could clean up 100 homes a day,” he said, noting that while he has been involved in seven other wildfire responses, this is by far the largest. “This is the worst disaster ever to hit California,” he said.
The last major national response of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief in California was to the Northridge earthquake in 1994, when volunteers ministered for more than two months in Los Angeles and prepared more than 1 million meals.
Donations to help with disaster relief can be sent to CSBC, 678 E. Shaw Ave., Fresno, CA 93710; checks should be made payable to CSBC and designated for “Disaster Relief.” Contributions for the national response may be made to the North American Mission Board online at www.namb.net/disasterrelief or mailed to 4200 North Point Parkway, Alpharetta, GA 30022.
James Dotson contributed to this report. For regular updates on Southern Baptist Disaster Relief efforts, visit www.namb.net/dr. (BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: HOPING FOR THE BEST and PROVIDING MEALS.