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Trained volunteers ramp up for flooded Louisiana, Mississippi

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Southern Baptist disaster relief volunteers in Louisiana and Mississippi began responding Sept. 27 to the flooding in the wake of Tropical Storm Isidore.

Two disaster relief teams in Louisiana will set up kitchen units in Kenner and Houma to prepare meals to be served by the American Red Cross.

“We go where we are needed and called,” Buddy Day, director of disaster relief for the Louisiana Baptist Convention, told Baptist Press. “Fortunately, the storm wasn’t as bad as we originally thought. However, there was quite a bit of flooding in south Louisiana and there’s plenty of clean-up that needs to be done.”

The team based at Williams Boulevard Baptist Church in Kenner will feed workers and victims of flooding in Slidell, a community located on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.

As Tropical Storm Isidore made landfall and headed north Sept. 26, water backing up from the Lake Pontchartrain inundated every home in Slidell’s Palm Lake subdivision. A levee break at midday caused a sudden flood that forced out residents of two other Slidell neighborhoods, the Dellwood and Yester Oaks subdivisions.

Just a few miles from First Baptist Church, Slidell, homeowners were forced from their houses when floodwater surged into their residences. The church was not damaged.

A National Weather Service advisory said that coastal storm surge flooding of three to six feet above normal tide levels will continue through later today.

In Mississippi, two “mudout” teams with a total of about 30 volunteers from across the state are working in the Bay St. Louis area, housed at the Gulf Shore Baptist Assembly, reported Jim Didlake, disaster relief coordinator for the Mississippi Baptist Convention.

The crews are trained to go into homes where floodwater has receded and clean up mud, carpet and ruined sheetrock from walls to allow proper drying. The crews also sanitize homes from potentially hazardous bacteria often found in floodwater.

A mobile kitchen unit also began cooking for the noon meal today at First Baptist Church of Biloxi.

“We’re feeding the people who remain in the shelters, and they’re looking right now at starting to feed in the area where they’re doing clean-up,” Didlake said. The meals also are to be distributed by the Red Cross.

Cleanup efforts in Louisiana probably will have to wait on the water to recede, Day said, noting one of the areas in Slidell that was particularly hard hit by the flooding.

“Reports are that they had water anywhere from five to eight feet, and it’s going to take that a while to drain out,” Day said.

Alabama disaster relief officials reported that there was some minor flooding in coastal areas, but that no immediate response is planned.

For all the property damage, though, no U.S. deaths or injuries were reported from Isidore.

More than 25,000 trained volunteers currently are a part of the Southern Baptist disaster relief network nationwide. The units generally are owned and operated by state conventions and local associations and coordinated nationally by the North American Mission Board.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: ISIDORE’S WAKE and STORM’S JOLT.

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  • Todd Starnes & James Dotson