HOLBROOK, Ariz. (BP)–Southern Baptist Disaster Relief kitchen and childcare units from California and Texas have joined the response to the worst wildfire in Arizona’s history — a 300,000-acre inferno in East Central Arizona.
The fire currently eclipses in federal priorities even the ongoing Colorado wildfires, which continue to occupy Southern Baptist mobile kitchen units from Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
And in a third response of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief forces recently requiring a multi-state response, flooding in Minnesota has brought new assistance from volunteers in Missouri and Indiana.
In the Arizona response, a mobile kitchen unit from Sacramento, Calif., was the first to arrive, reaching Holbrook about 1:30 a.m. June 24. The unit was scheduled to begin preparing two meals daily beginning June 25 for distribution by American Red Cross vehicles, according to Chuck Erikson of Garden Grove, Calif., who is supervising the unit. The meals will support firefighters and other emergency workers, as well as evacuated residents staying in shelters.
A second mobile kitchen from Odessa, Texas, and a child care unit from Texas both were enroute to Eagar, Ariz., according to Joel Phillips, a North American Mission Board staff member serving as off-site coordinator for all of the responses.
In Colorado, the huge Hayman fire south of Denver was 67 percent contained as of June 24, according to news reports, but other fires continued to grow.
Texas and Oklahoma mobile kitchens continue to serve emergency workers and displaced residents from the Hayman fire in Castle Rock and Memorial. An Arkansas unit began serving meals over the weekend in Durango, where a Missionary Ridge blaze was only 30 percent contained and encroaching more populated areas closer to the town.
In Minnesota, volunteers from Missouri began staffing a Minnesota mobile kitchen unit operating in Roseau County, Mo., over the weekend. The unit had been operating since June 13.
“They’ve done an outstanding job coming in and working with us, and teaching us a little bit,” state disaster relief coordinator Phil Smith said of the Missouri volunteers. “It’s been a great partnership between Minnesota and Missouri.”
Missouri volunteers also are assisting with two child-care facilities set up near American Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance centers, Smith said. A “mud-out” unit from Indiana, meanwhile, arrived over the weekend to begin cleaning up homes damaged by the floods.
Other ongoing national Disaster Relief responses include rebuilding efforts in flooded areas of West Virginia and mobile kitchen support for workers at the Staten Island landfill in New York.
More than 25,000 trained volunteers currently are a part of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief network nationwide. The units generally are owned and operated by state conventions and local associations and coordinated nationally by the North American Mission Board.