News Articles

Snowmelt flooding is new DR focus

BUFFALO, N.Y. (BP) — Following a weekend of snow removal in upstate New York, Southern Baptist disaster relief volunteers are now turning their energy toward flood mitigation.

Some 200 DR volunteers around Buffalo have been clearing paths for local residents to exit their front doors and back out of their driveways after parts of the region received seven feet of snow from a storm that has left 13 dead. Additional Southern Baptist DR volunteers elsewhere are on alert in anticipation of snowmelt flooding when temperatures climb into the mid-60s Monday (Nov. 24).

“Now everything is turning to flood mitigation,” Mike Flannery, disaster relief director for the Baptist Convention of New York, told Baptist Press. “… If there is flooding, then we’ll activate our mud-out and muck-out crews.”

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for the most heavily affected areas that will not expire until Nov. 26. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, snowmelt typically generates a 10:1 ratio in water accumulation. In the case of areas around Buffalo, seven feet of melting snow would produce nearly a foot of water.

In at least once instance, a snow removal project became a ministry opportunity. A 70-year-old woman who was blind and handicapped experienced a panic attack while on the phone with DR workers to request help digging out of her home, worried that she would not be able to get food and her medication.

“We prayed together on the telephone,” DR incident command administrator Beverley Flannery fold BP. “I talked her through how she needed to relax and … that she needed not to be concerned that she was going to get out of her home and get her medicine and be able eventually to get food.”

DR workers shoveled a path from the woman’s front door to her mailbox Nov. 23. She was able to get food, and emergency management workers delivered her medicine.

Beverley Flannery, the wife of Mike Flannery, requested prayer for DR workers around Buffalo as well as for affected residents.

“Pray for the communities here and that, when we do get a callout, we would get to people who need help,” she said.

The North American Mission Board coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters through partnerships with 42 state Baptist conventions, most of which have their own state disaster relief ministries.

Those wishing to donate to SBDR can contact the Baptist convention in their state or visit https://donations.namb.net/dr-donations. For phone donations, call 1-866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.”