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SBDR, Send Relief responding to Hurricane Idalia as storm reenters Atlantic

VALDOSTA, Ga. – Hurricane Idalia moved offshore of the North Carolina coast Thursday (Aug. 31) after making landfall in Florida’s Big Bend the morning of Aug. 30 as a Category 3 storm and rolling across northern Florida, South Georgia and South Carolina, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power, downing trees and generating flash floods in its wake.

So far, officials have cited the storm as the cause of death for three victims, two in Florida and one in Georgia.

Multiple state Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) teams have geared up to respond to those in need following Hurricane Idalia. On Thursday morning, Send Relief sent a semi-truck loaded with emergency meals, bottled water, mold remediation, protective personal equipment and other emergency supplies to support the response in Florida and South Georgia.

SBDR teams from Florida, Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina plan to set up feeding and response sites over the weekend throughout the Big Bend region of Florida where the storm hit hardest. The storm moved through South Georgia as a Category 2 before weakening into a tropical storm as it entered South Carolina.

Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief Director Dwain Carter told The Christian Index the deployment includes mobile kitchen crews, heavy equipment operators, chainsaw teams, chaplains, family care volunteers, mobile laundromats and shower units.

“Our teams are seeing lots of trees down,” Carter told the Index. “There’s still no power in a lot of the area. Communications are very spotty at best. I would guess we’ll be there a minimum of three weeks.”

Send Relief’s Valdosta Ministry Center utilized a mobile kitchen to feed first responders in Valdosta, Ga., on Aug. 30, and they will continue to provide meals as needed over the next few days. Georgia SBDR anticipates establishing a site in the city to assist with the recovery, as only 30 percent of Valdosta residents had power as of Thursday morning.

“Send Relief continues to respond and support Southern Baptist Disaster Relief as, together, we seek to bring needed help and the hope of Christ to those impacted by Hurricane Idalia,” said Coy Webb, crisis response director for Send Relief. “Southern Baptist trained disaster relief teams are already responding with feeding and moving to assist with clean-up efforts with flood recovery and chainsaw teams.”

Send Relief has set up a 2023 Hurricane Response fund, which can be found at SendRelief.org.

Brandon Elrod writes for the North American Mission Board.