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Response to Georges largest since Hurricane Andrew


ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)– The killer wind and rain of Hurricane Georges has forced the largest mobilization of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, with 14 feeding units and nine cleanup and recovery units on site as of Oct. 2.
The storm claimed more than 320 lives in its journey across the Caribbean and across southernmost Florida before making landfall on the Mississippi coast Sept. 28.
Most of the heaviest damage and loss of life occurred in the Caribbean. Four Southern Baptist Disaster Relief airlift feeding units are currently preparing meals for victims and relief workers in Puerto Rico, and a coordinated disaster response plan for the Dominican Republic, Haiti and other affected nations are still being developed in assistance with the International Mission Board.
In the United States, Caison said the actual response needed was somewhat less than originally had been anticipated, and the need for food preparation by the ten units currently activated should begin to taper off the week of Oct. 5. An estimated 40,000 meals had been prepared through all of the activated units as of Oct. 2.
“What will happen is we’ll transition from the emergency (response) to the long-term in the next week or so,” Caison said. Long-term recovery efforts include coordination of rebuilding, which in the past have lasted as long as a year.
The response, by affected area, includes the following: Puerto Rico. Airlift feeding units from Georgia, Alabama and Texas have been activated, and a team of volunteers from North Carolina is staffing an airlift kitchen permanently based in Puerto Rico. The last of the volunteers were expected to be in Puerto Rico by Oct. 3. Caison said Puerto Rico likely will be the largest and longest-term response. An estimated 150,000 homes were damaged — 75,000 with major damage or destroyed — and many residents do not have insurance.
Florida: Three feeding units have begun providing meals for refugees along the Florida Keys. A Georgia unit is based at First Baptist Church of Big Pine Key, Fla; a South Carolina unit, accompanied by a NAMB-owned shower unit, is based at Sugar Loaf Baptist Church on Little Sugar Loaf Key; and a Florida unit is based at Fifth Street Baptist Church on Key West. Additionally, four Florida cleanup and recovery units are in the Keys, and another Florida unit has been activated in First Baptist Church, Mossey Head in West Florida. A command center staffed by 25 Florida Baptist Convention staff has been set up at Sugar Loaf Baptist Church.
Alabama: Two Alabama feeding units are operational at First Baptist Church, Foley and Spring Hill Baptist Church, Mobile. Two cleanup and recovery teams also had begun work in the state.
Mississippi: Three feeding units active, based at First Baptist Church, Pascagoula; Grace Baptist Church, Gulfport; and Wool Market Baptist Church, Biloxi. Three cleanup and recovery teams also were at work, with seven more scheduled to be activated.
Louisiana: The Louisiana feeding unit is now operating at First Baptist Church of Belle Chasse.
Caison said the coordinated international response, expected to be developed over the weekend, will involve recruitment of trained Disaster Relief volunteers to serve in a variety of situations.
In another response coordinated with the International Mission Board, Caison said, two teams of four volunteers each still are being recruited to provide water-well analysis in response to widespread flooding in Bangladesh.
Contributions for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief projects may be sent to Disaster Relief, North American Mission Board, 4200 North Point Parkway, Alpharetta, Ga., 30022. Individuals wishing to receive training required to become a Disaster Relief volunteer should contact their state convention offices.

    About the Author

  • James Dotson