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Relief units in North Dakota gearing up as flood recedes

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (BP)–Southern Baptist disaster relief units expect to be providing up to 60,000 meals per day during the week of May 5 in North Dakota and Minnesota as thousands of Red River flood victims begin returning to their homes in the region.

“Because families and cleanup crews are beginning to return to the city of Grand Forks, we’re seeing a significant increase in the need for food, and Southern Baptists are the primary provider of food preparation there,” said Mickey Caison of the Brotherhood Commission, serving as off-site coordinator for the disaster response. As of May 1, after 11 days of operation, Southern Baptist units had provided 116,500 meals. The Texas unit was located at Grand Forks (N.D.) Air Force Base; the Ohio unit at Calvary Baptist Church, Fargo, N.D.; and the Oklahoma unit at the elementary school at Red Lake Falls, Minn. The units are providing meals to all 32 fixed feeding sites set up by the American Red Cross. “At one point on Wednesday, there were 250 cars lined up at one of the feeding sites in Grand Forks, with people waiting for food,” Caison said. “That site was providing more than 2,800 meals per hour.” Meanwhile, the Red River flood crest has moved into the Canadian province of Manitoba, and Caison said Southern Baptists may be on the verge of their first disaster relief effort north of the border in the 27-year history of the ministry. He added conversations have begun toward this end with Canadian Red Cross and Salvation Army officials. These talks will continue on a face-to-face basis in Winnipeg, Man., later during the week of May 5, he said. Before then, Caison will arrive in Fargo to coordinate the start of cleanup operations. Volunteers wishing to serve in this phase should begin by contacting the Brotherhood departments in their respective state conventions, not the Dakota Baptist Fellowship office in Bismarck, N.D., as had been noted in earlier news accounts. Those with cleaning supplies to contribute — mops, buckets, pushbrooms, scoops, and the like — also should contact their state convention Brotherhood offices. The Brotherhood Commission coordinates multi-state disaster response on behalf of all Southern Baptists. The disaster relief ministry will become a ministry of the SBC’s new North American Mission Board in June.

Financial contributions in support of disaster relief may be made to the Brotherhood Commission, 1548 Poplar Ave., Memphis, TN 38104.

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  • Steve Barber