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Southern Baptist disaster response hits stride in Arkansas, Ohio valley

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (BP)–The tornadoes have stopped and the floodwater is subsiding in the South and Midwest — at least for now — meaning the Southern Baptist disaster response in the aftermath is just hitting stride.

As of March 11, Arkansas-based feeding and child-care units, joined by two units from Texas and cleanup crews from Louisiana and Mississippi, were operating in Little Rock or Arkadelphia, Ark., in the wake of tornadoes there March 1.

In the Ohio River valley, units from Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and Tennessee were at work as floodwater from the Ohio and its tributaries began to recede above Louisville, Ky.

Taken together, the units have provided 95,500 meals and completed 270 cleanup jobs since the response began 10 days earlier, but the response is in its infancy, according to Mickey Caison of the Brotherhood Commission, serving as off-site coordinator.

“It’s fair to say we could be there for weeks, maybe months,” Caison said, adding disaster officials were “still waiting for the crest to happen in other areas. Once it does, it takes two to three days for the water to go down for every day it took for the water to rise, and it takes a long time to dry out the homes and churches.”

In any event, Caison called on Southern Baptists to pray for the disaster victims and the volunteers, noting there will be “unprecedented opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus Christ in many of these communities.”

The Brotherhood Commission coordinates multi-state response to disasters on behalf of Southern Baptists. The response to Hurricane Andrew in August 1992 stands as the largest in the ministry’s 27-year history, with 10,000 volunteers providing 2.6 million meals and care for hundreds of children in south Florida and Louisiana.

Contributions in support of the disaster relief effort may be made to the Brotherhood Commission, 1548 Poplar Ave., Memphis TN 38104.

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  • Steve Barber