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Texas Baptist relief volunteers prepare meals for N.M. neighbors

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–A disaster relief unit operated by Texas Baptist Men prepared more than 9,000 meals during its first four days of operation in fire-ravaged New Mexico.

Jered Sellers, the “blue cap” (unit commander) of TBM’s Top of Texas unit based in Plains, Texas, said meals were prepared both for firefighters and evacuees of two fires raging in northern New Mexico. The unit is operating at Glorieta, a LifeWay Conference Center.

The Cerro Grande Fire, the largest in the state’s history, had consumed more than 47,000 acres by May 18, and a fire near the conference center, the Monument Fire, had burned 80 acres.

A second disaster relief unit from Texas, the Permian Basin unit from Odessa, also arrived at Glorieta. The unit from Plains was activated by the American Red Cross May 14, but the Permian Basin unit was not formally activated.

The Odessa unit nevertheless assisted the Plains unit, as did local volunteers. “We couldn’t have done it without them,” Sellers told the Baptist New Mexican newsjournal by phone from Glorieta May 17.

The Plains unit is capable of preparing 12,000 meals daily, Sellers said.

Fred Kinsey, on-site coordinator in Santa Fe for the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, reported on May 16 that 38 volunteers had been involved in the relief project.

The volunteers were preparing meals primarily for firefighters and evacuee centers in the area, and Glorieta was feeding Los Alamos-area residents who had fled to the conference center for shelter.

But on Monday, May 15, the Monument Fire burned six power lines near Glorieta, cutting off power to the conference center for approximately 12 hours, Sellers said. Since Glorieta was unable to prepare any meals during that time, the unit, which operates with its own power source, prepared an additional 750 meals, which were then served by the Glorieta kitchen staff in Glorieta’s cafeteria.

After preparing meals for evacuation centers and firefighters, the Baptist volunteers loaded them onto Red Cross Emergency Relief Vehicles, which distribute them.

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  • John Loudat