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Southern Baptist Disaster Relief in gear to deploy teams to assist tornado victims

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) — Southern Baptist Disaster Relief officials issued an initial assessment Friday night (March 2) after an onslaught of severe storms in several states that left more than 30 people dead.

The SBDR bulletin, adapted as a news report, follows:

At 11 p.m. Friday the Weather Channel was reporting over 100 confirmed tornados and more than 700 reports of damaging winds for Friday, with storms still flaring up in eastern Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee; north Georgia; central Alabama; and western Virginia and the Carolinas.

Major damage has been reported in several states and 28 have been confirmed dead in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio with more than half of those in Indiana. Search and rescue teams are out in many locations as this report goes to press.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief leaders in the affected states have been working with their volunteers today assessing damage, communicating with partner agencies and working with local emergency management to determine how to best assist individuals in damaged communities.


Bill Crane, Indiana Baptist state convention disaster relief representative, reported they mobilized assessors Friday who found the going difficult as many roads were closed with debris. He has a unit leader at the Red Cross operations center and will have a representative at the emergency management meeting on Saturday morning.

In response to a request late Friday evening from Indiana for assistance from the North American Mission Board, Bruce Poss will leave for Indiana on Saturday morning.


Coy Webb, DR director for the Kentucky Baptist Convention, reported Friday night that the worst of the damage is in West Liberty and the counties of Williamstown, Dry Ridge and Pendleton. Assessors will be on the scene in these areas Saturday morning and Kentucky SBDR leaders will be meeting with emergency management leadership as well. Webb anticipates deploying KY chaplains and chainsaw teams once the assessment is underway on Saturday.


Tennessee Baptist Convention disaster relief director David Acres is closely monitoring the storms moving through the state. He has assessors ready to mobilize into hard-hit areas in the morning.


Missouri Baptist disaster relief director Rick Seaton reported Friday night that he will have assessment teams in Kimberling City on Saturday morning. Kimberling City, just outside of Branson, Mo., was hit by a tornado on Wednesday, Feb. 29.


Mel Johnson, disaster relief director for the Alabama State Board of Missions, has assessors ready to deploy Saturday morning to several areas hit by tornados and damaging winds. At least two Alabama churches suffered significant damage from tornadoes.


Illinois Baptist DR assessors were working in Harrisburg, Ill., on Thursday. Chainsaw and feeding teams were on standby following the storm that struck the area on Wednesday. From the Illinois Baptist disaster relief Facebook page on Friday: “We had 61 volunteers on site (Harrisburg, IL) yesterday and have six or seven teams scheduled to work Saturday. (City and county officials asked us not to work today, due to the severe weather forecasts, but we will be back on the job tomorrow.) Meanwhile, we have teams working in Ridgway and Alto Pass today.”


A Kansas/Nebraska Baptist disaster relief feeding unit is responding to a Red Cross request to prepare meals in Harveyville, Kan., where an EF2 tornado with winds between 111 and 135 mph left a track of damage five miles long and 150 yards wide.

Pray for all of these teams as they enter the damaged areas as the sun comes up Saturday morning. Pray for their safety. Pray that the way will be open for them to reach the places where God has set divine appointments for them. Pray for them as they reach out in Jesus’ name and share the hope of Christ with people who find themselves trying to cope with devastating loss. Pray for those still in harm’s way as the storm system continues to move eastward tonight and Saturday morning.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is on the Web at www.namb.net/dr.
Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston.

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