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Vols needed soon, but not now, disaster relief coordinator says

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (BP)–Prospective volunteers wanting to serve in flood-ravaged North Dakota and Minnesota will be needed, but not right away, according to the coordinator of Southern Baptist disaster response.

Everybody wants to go in now, but it will be at least two to three more weeks before cleanup operations can begin, requiring volunteers in large numbers, according to Mickey Caison of the Brotherhood Commission, who is serving as off-site coordinator.

Volunteers should call the Dakota Southern Baptist Fellowship in Bismarck, N.D., at (701) 255-3765 for more information.

For the moment, Caison said Southern Baptist relief operations already in the region were adequately staffed. Volunteer workers at three mobile kitchens were being relieved with fresh troops, as normally scheduled, from the state Southern Baptist conventions that operate the units. After four days in operation, more than 25,000 meals had been provided.

Local Southern Baptist volunteers also were taking a visible role, allowing them to be seen as caregivers, according to Caison.

“We encourage them to become part of the relief team, because they will be there long after the feeding units are gone,” Caison said. “My personal experience has been that my service as a local volunteer gave me an entrance to many homes to minister to many families after the immediate crisis had passed.” Items that will be needed before the cleanup begins include mops, buckets, push brooms, scoops and other cleaning supplies. Dakota Fellowship officials are asking contributors of these items to call the fellowship office in Bismarck. They expect to have warehouse space secured for these items by the week of April 28.

A Texas-based feeding unit is located at Grand Forks (N.D.) Air Force Base, while an Ohio unit is operating at Calvary Baptist Church, Fargo, N.D. An Oklahoma unit is serving meals at an elementary school in Red River Falls, Minn.

Caison called on Southern Baptists to pray for the victims and volunteers involved in this disaster response.

Pray for their safety and for many opportunities to present the gospel, he said.

The Brotherhood Commission coordinates multi-state response on behalf of all 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 disaster relief may be made to the Brotherhood Commission, 1548 Poplar Ave., Memphis, TN 38104.

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  • Steve Barber