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NYT takes note of Southern Baptist DR

RAINSVILLE, Ala. (BP)–The New York Times highlighted Southern Baptist Disaster Relief in a May 9 article, noting that after the Red Cross and Salvation Army, Southern Baptists form the largest disaster relief organization in the country.

“From an elaborate ‘war room’ in a church building in Montgomery, Ala., to direct lines of communication with federal and local emergency agencies, the Southern Baptist disaster ministry is a model of efficiency,” The Times reported.

“Its renowned chain-saw crews were cutting fallen trees so medical crews could get to the injured in the hours after the tornadoes hit. They had an enormous mobile kitchen, complete with a hot-water heater for dishwashing and five convection ovens, set up here a day before the Red Cross arrived,” the newspaper said, reporting from Rainsville, Ala.

The Times called Southern Baptist teams “the backbone of disaster relief” in Rainsville and focused on Marteen and Wiley Blankenship, a retired Alabama couple who were among the first to arrive on the scene after the tornadoes hit.

“Some couples spend retirement playing the nation’s best golf courses or hopping cruise ships. Not Marteen and Wiley Blankenship. They collect disasters the way other retirees collect passport stamps,” The Times wrote.

The Blankenships were sleeping on an air mattress in a Sunday School room in an Alabama church when they weren’t serving meals to tornado victims. They told the newspaper it’s their calling to assist people when disaster strikes.

“The Southern Baptists cook the food that the Red Cross provides, and then Red Cross crews help deliver it,” The Times said. “Since March 31, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Salvation Army and the Red Cross have worked together to deliver more than 638,000 meals and snacks to communities affected by this spring’s rash of severe weather.”
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Erin Roach.

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