NEW ORLEANS (BP) — Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is seeking help with mud-out and assessment as it concentrates on clean-up, recovery and roof repairs for Hurricane Isaac victims, confident that meals are no longer needed.
With almost 228,000 meals prepared since Isaac struck the Gulf Coast, SBDR has shut down its feeding operations and is seeking help with clean-up and the installation of temporary, plastic roofs, said North American Mission Board disaster relief coordinator Bruce Poss.
“We need 15 more mud-out teams and 13 assessment teams from other state conventions immediately in Louisiana,” Poss said.
Ample housing and feeding accommodations are available for up to 500 SBDR volunteers, Poss said. Most of the recovery work, about 80 percent, will focus on mud-out, while 20 percent goes to roofing, he said, expressing hopes to complete the work within the next three weeks.
In addition to the numerous meals, SBDR reports the completion of 282 mud-out jobs, 224 chainsaw jobs and at least 140 roofing jobs. Almost 5,700 showers and loads of laundry have been provided, as well as childcare for about 100 children. Following 14,104 ministry and chaplaincy contacts and 173 Gospel presentations, 24 have made decisions for Christ.
SBDR’s roofing work has included participation in a pilot plastic tarp installation project with FEMA, the Louisiana Voluntary Organization Active in Disaster (LA-VOAD) and the National Voluntary Organization Active in Disaster (National VOAD). SBDR is participating in the pilot with other volunteer organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Blessing.
Mickey Caison, NAMB’s disaster relief team leader based in a mobile NAMB command center at Lake Forest Baptist Church in New Orleans, said gray plastic roofing with the Southern Baptist Convention logo has been installed on damaged roofs in New Orleans and seven South Louisiana parishes, namely Plaquemines, St. John the Baptist, Washington, Livingston, St. Charles, St. James and St. Bernard.
“I’ll be surprised if we don’t do 700 or 800 homes before it’s all over with,” Caison said.
After Isaac hit on Aug. 29, FEMA projections indicated some 3,000-5,000 homes would need temporary plastic roofing to protect belongings and prevent further damage until permanent repairs could be made.
Caison calls the pilot a “win-win” project, because the program not only prevents homes from deteriorating further, but also enables impacted residents to stay in their homes, decreasing the need for shelters or temporary FEMA housing.
Two of NAMB’s 18-wheel tractor trailers deployed to Mississippi and Louisiana, loaded with a combined 640 roles of plastic sheeting, wooden furring strips and nails. Caison said all 640 rolls have been used.
“It’s just more economical, for both the families and for FEMA,” Caison said. “I’m pretty excited about how we can carry this program further. We’ve learned a lot during Isaac and in a few weeks in Washington, we’ll sit down with FEMA and talk about how it can be improved.”
Money for SBDR relief efforts is getting low, Caison said.
“Although this was not a Hurricane Katrina-type response, it has still been a very costly response,” he said. “Our DR funds are very low.”
In a video statement Fred Luter, SBC president and senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, said Isaac impacted thousands of homes and left many in need of shelter, food and other basics of life.
“But I am happy to report that Southern Baptists were on the scene within hours, offering physical help and spiritual hope. Local churches have been the first to step up with assistance, and volunteers from Louisiana and several other state Baptist conventions have been serving tirelessly since Isaac hit. Their efforts are truly making a difference,” Luter said.
“The North American Mission Board has provided coordination and key pieces of equipment essential for communications and the distribution of resources. In times of crises, Southern Baptists come together as one to serve those in need.
“That need continues even now. We need your prayers for the victims and for the ones ministering to them, and we need your continued support of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief,” Luter said.
Kay Bennett, NAMB national missionary and executive director of the Baptist Friendship House in New Orleans, also assisted in the Isaac response. While New Orleans proper was spared from most of Isaac’s destruction, Bennett said, the Baptist Friendship House on Elysian Fields Avenue did suffer a leaky roof, ruining the carpet in three of the center’s rooms. The center was without electricity for five days.
BFH distributed a truckload of food donated by Feed the Children –- half of it at the center and half at Celebration Church-River Parishes campus in hard-hit LaPlace, about 22 miles west of New Orleans, Bennett said.
“In LaPlace, the floodwater came into houses during the night, so those folks woke up in water and lost everything they had,” she said.
From its disaster operations center in Alpharetta, Ga., NAMB coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters in partnership with the SBC’s 42 state conventions, most of which have their own state disaster relief programs.
SBDR assets include 82,000 trained volunteers, including chaplains, and some 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, childcare, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the three largest mobilizers of trained disaster relief volunteers in the United States, including the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.
Southern Baptists and others who want to donate to the disaster relief operations can contact their state conventions or contribute to NAMB’s disaster relief fund here. Donations are also accepted at 1-866-407-NAMB (6262) or NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.”
Mickey Noah writes for the North American Mission Board. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).