SARASOTA, Fla. (BP) – Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) has been awarded $400,000 in funding from the Florida Disaster Fund to help the state’s residents with relief efforts following Hurricane Ian’s landfall in southwest Florida Sept. 28.
Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis announced in an Oct. 21 press conference that SBDR is one of several nonprofit organizations to receive the funding as hurricane relief efforts are ongoing in the state.
“We are excited to supplement the efforts of nonprofits that are on the ground helping Floridians navigate the challenges of rebuilding following Hurricane Ian,” she said. “By harnessing the charitable contributions of the private sector and thousands of generous Americans who have donated, we are providing real help to Floridians in need.”
David Coggins, director of Florida Baptist Disaster Relief, expressed appreciation for the funding.
“This gift is a very generous gift and [a] recognition from the first lady’s office of the value that Florida Baptist Disaster Relief and the larger community of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief bring to the state’s efforts to bring help to the citizens of Florida in times of crisis such as these,” he said.
“We value very much our partnership with the Florida Division of Emergency Management and the extended partnership with the first lady’s office as well. The recognition of our volunteers’ efforts to bring the hope of Christ in the midst of this devastation has certainly been validated by our state leadership with this generous gift of resources.”
Coggins said a portion of the funds will be shared with the numerous state conventions that have sent SBDR teams to help with relief efforts in Florida.
“We will be working with SBDR through Send Relief to send a portion of the donations on to those states,” he said.
Florida Baptist Disaster Relief efforts began within 48 hours of category 4 Hurricane Ian’s assault on southwest Florida, and the efforts will be ongoing for months.
During the DeSantis press conference, Rich Rigdon, Florida Baptist DR operations manager, said that in the first 20 days following Hurricane Ian’s landfall, SBDR had served more than 600,000 meals to those impacted by the hurricane.
“It’s not done yet,” Rigdon said. “We are continuing to do that. We are making assessments on properties. We’re going out. We’re doing tree jobs; we’re doing mud outs; we’re mitigating mold; we’re taking care of tarps and roofing. And we’re meeting spiritual needs, and we’re sharing Christ.
“It is a blessing for us that we get to receive this gracious donation. It is so unbelievable to work with a state and have a state that has done so well in trusting us to be good stewards” in using the funds to meet needs, he said.
In response, DeSantis recounted her own experience walking alongside an SBDR group, representing several state conventions, helping with hurricane relief efforts in southwest Florida.
“To watch your operation in action, to see them getting meals, putting them together, going into the neighborhoods,” she said. “You had a laundry center where people could wash their clothes. You guys have thought of everything. And to see that you’re coming from so far away to help folks in need and the smiles you put on people’s faces when they saw you coming with your arms wide open and food and other supplies was really something to see.
“We appreciate everything that you and your organization have done.”