Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are among those from several southeastern states headed to Florida to assist with cleanup efforts following the catastrophic damage left in the wake of Hurricane Ian.
The storm made landfall Sept. 28, hitting the southwest coast of Florida at speeds of 150 miles per hour. It continues to climb up the east coast threatening more damage.
Along with chainsaw, mudout and communications teams, ABDR sent assessors, chaplains and feeding teams, according to Mark Wakefield, disaster relief strategist for the State Board of Missions.
Additionally, the state’s large kitchen unit will be set up at First Baptist Church Arcadia, Florida, and teams are expected to prepare up to 15,000 meals per day, he noted.
“Pray for safe travels … and open doors for ministry,” Wakefield requested.
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers from other states also continue to position themselves in the storm-affected region. Millions of Florida residents were without power on Sept. 29 amid catastrophic damage left in the wake of Hurricane Ian. Power was restored quickly in some urban areas, but officials said power restoration could take weeks in some barrier island communities cut off from the mainland by Ian’s might. A chunk of the Sanibel Causeway fell into the sea, cutting off access to the barrier island where 6,300 people live.
At least a dozen deaths in Florida have been reported.
Ian made landfall along the Southwest coast of Florida on Wednesday at speeds of 150 miles per hour, just shy of a Category 5 Hurricane. The storm regained hurricane strength as it continued up the East Coast on Friday. The National Hurricane Center expects life-threatening storm surge and hurricane conditions along the Carolina coast by Friday afternoon. Rainfall of up to 8 inches could lead to flooding from South Carolina to Virginia.
On Thursday, Send Relief — the compassion ministry of the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board — loaded a semi-truck filled with bottled water, temporary roofing and various emergency supplies to send to Florida.
Send Relief also deployed a rescue boat to the Fort Myers area to be used in rescue efforts by the Swift Water Flood Search and Rescue Team. A team of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers from North Carolina and Tennessee will be working in coordination with the Florida Emergency Operations Center.
“Pray for this team as they aid in search & rescue efforts,” Send Relief tweeted on Thursday.
More on the way
In addition to Disaster Relief volunteers from Alabama, Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee, teams from Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas have been arriving in the state to prepare for ongoing relief efforts. Other states that are on standby for storm response in the region include Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri and South Carolina.
These teams will begin emergency food distributions, flood recovery, temporary roofing and chain saw projects to minister to those impacted.
The first meals should be served on Monday (Oct. 3). At least 100,000 meals are expected to be served each day, depending on how many more mobile kitchens are deployed.
Relief efforts are expected to last for months to come.
How to give
The quick mobilization of volunteers comes from a ministry infrastructure provided by the Cooperative Program.
Donations to ABDR assist with the deployment of volunteers and the purchase of needed equipment and supplies.
To give online, visit sbdr.org/hurricane-relief/.
Checks designated for Hurricane Relief may be sent to: SBOM, P.O. Box 681970, Prattville, AL 36068-1970.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was compiled by The Alabama Baptist and The Baptist Paper, with reporting from the Florida Baptist Convention and North American Mission Board.