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Volunteers deploy to Colo. flood region

LONGMONT, Colo. (BP) — After torrential flooding in Colorado’s Front Range, Southern Baptist volunteers are among relief workers now deployed to the region where heavy rains and steep mountains combined to wash out homes, bridges and roads from Estes Park to Boulder and beyond.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers from at least four states have joined fellow Baptists in Colorado to provide aid to survivors.

Communities as far east as Greeley and Dearfield also suffered flood damage from rain that began Sept. 10. The storm peaked Sept. 12 when Boulder received more than nine inches, double the previous one-day record, according to the National Weather Service. Authorities attribute six deaths to the flooding. At one point as many as 1,400 people were unaccounted for in the state. That number dropped to 200 by Thursday as power and cell phone service were restored across much of the region.

“Things are going well as we are gearing up for cleanup and recovery,” said Eddie Blackmon, North American Mission Board SBDR coordinator. Blackmon is serving in Longmont with Colorado Baptist disaster relief director Dennis Belz. A NAMB mobile command center was headed to Longs Peak Baptist Church in Longmont to serve as the overall incident command center. NAMB also is dispatching a recovery unit and a semi load of supplies.

Volunteers from the Missouri Baptist Convention and Texas Baptist Men will staff incident management teams in Longmont and Loveland, respectively, Blackmon said. Oklahoma Baptist SBDR volunteers are en route to serve as another management team in Boulder. The host churches are Orchards Baptist Church in Loveland and East Boulder Baptist Church. SBDR volunteers from other states are on standby.

Colorado Baptist SBDR volunteers were preparing meals for distribution to survivors. Colorado volunteers also are staffing aid stations at Colorado State Disaster Assistance Centers.

“They are ministering to the families and survivors of the floods,” Blackmon said. “They are taking job requests that we hope to begin fulfilling soon. Some of the best news today is that Lyons, the community that was an island, was opened today for residents to return.”

Blackmon said the spirit of cooperation from both city and county officials has been encouraging. He added that the positive reaction from government officials has even surprised some volunteers.

NAMB coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters through partnerships with 42 state Baptist conventions, most of which have their own state disaster relief programs.

Southern Baptists have 82,000 trained volunteers — including chaplains — and 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, childcare, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the three largest mobilizers of trained disaster relief volunteers in the United States, along with the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.

To donate to SBDR efforts, contact the Baptist convention in your state or visit https://donations.namb.net/dr-donations. Other ways to donate are to call 1-866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.”
Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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  • Joe Conway