News Articles

Southern Baptists asked to triple disaster relief efforts for Fla.

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Southern Baptist Disaster Relief units have been pulled out of Florida but are making plans to prepare 1 million meals per week in the wake of Hurricane Frances, currently closing in on the southeastern coast of Florida.

“Because of the population centers potentially impacted by Hurricane Frances at this time, the American Red Cross has asked us to be ready to prepare one million meals a week in the aftermath of this storm,” said Robert E. “Bob” Reccord, president of the North American Mission Board. “In the three weeks since Hurricane Charley, we’ve already prepared one million meals, so the Red Cross is asking us to triple our capacity.”

Hurricane Frances is twice the size of Hurricane Charley which hit southwest Florida Aug 13.

To meet the anticipated need, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief officials are planning to activate about 40 mobile kitchen units, nearly twice the number of units that have been in operation since Charley.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief officials also have been asked to help man mobile kitchen units owned and operated by the American Red Cross and Salvation Army. With 28,000 trained volunteers on call for local, state and national emergencies, Southern Baptists are the third-largest disaster relief agency in the country behind the American Red Cross and Salvation Army.

Southern Baptists normally prepare the meals distributed by the Red Cross, but for Frances, the Red Cross also has requested Southern Baptist volunteers to drive 200 of their vehicles that distribute meals throughout neighborhoods and communities devastated by the storms.

All out-of-state Southern Baptist Disaster Relief units and teams stationed throughout southwest Florida were evacuated Sept. 1. About 25 units and 100 volunteers from Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Louisiana, Missouri and Illinois were stationed in Perry, Ga., ready to return to Florida after Frances passes.

And Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams remain on standby in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, Illinois, California, New Mexico, Wyoming and Washington State to help man mobile kitchens and chainsaw crews in Frances’ aftermath.

In an e-mail sent Sept. 2 to former NAMB contributors and mission volunteers, Reccord said that while churches make Southern Baptist Disaster Relief ministries possible through their giving to the Cooperative Program, individual contributions can make a timely difference in the midst of this unprecedented need.

“This double-barreled emergency has stretched our resources beyond all anticipated needs,” Reccord stated. “Yet God is already redeeming lives amid this tragedy through the loving labors of Southern Baptists.”

About 3,800 Southern Baptist volunteers from 24 states have helped prepare nearly one million meals and completed 3,500 cleanup and recovery projects since mid-August.

In short video clip available for download at www.namb.net, Reccord calls on churches to pray for the safety of those in Hurricane Frances’ path as well as the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers who will engage in recovery efforts in the storm’s aftermath.

“The normal logistical challenges faced by one hurricane are difficult enough, but put two back to back, and you’ve got unbelievable challenges,” Reccord said. “While our volunteers are meeting physical needs, they have many opportunities to give spiritual answers to the devastation that will be left in the wake of the hurricanes.

“Thanks to Southern Baptists throughout North America when disaster strikes and the bottom falls out, we’re able to step up and step forward to provide immediate assistance to those whose lives have been devastated.”

Contributions to offset direct costs of the disaster relief response may be sent to state conventions, associations or churches responding to the effort, or to the North American Mission Board. NAMB contributions may be made online at www.namb.net/disasterrelief or mailed to North American Mission Board, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543.

    About the Author

  • Lee Weeks