By Neisha Roberts
The Alabama Baptist
Alabama Baptists once again put on their yellow shirts — this time to assist residents who withstood Hurricane Matthew in early October.
By Oct. 4 officials in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina had declared states of emergency in anticipation of the powerful storm, which remained a Category 3 as it began to pass near the east coast Oct. 7.
Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief (DR) volunteers were in touch with ministry partners in Haiti and the eastern U.S. about “when and where volunteers and other resources will be most effective,” according to sbdr.org.
At press time, volunteers were scheduled to deploy to Florida on Oct. 9 along with a feeding unit, shower trailers, administration teams, skid-steer equipment and chaplains.
Dan Wiggins, a team leader for chaplaincy ministry for Alabama Baptist DR and director of missions for Pleasant Grove Baptist Association, told The Alabama Baptist at press time that about 50 volunteers were set to deploy.
Specific relief details and locations had not been determined at press time as DR leadership was staging and preparing for where the storm would hit, according to Mark Wakefield, disaster relief and chaplaincy ministry strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM).
“The uncertainty is just part of doing disaster relief,” Wakefield said. “It takes a lot of flexibility and willingness to adapt to get the job done.”
Two Florida Baptist feeding units were set up at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center in Leesburg, Florida, for rapid response. And Florida Baptist DR officials requested that partners in Mississippi and Texas be on standby as well.
Baptist Global Response (BGR), the International Mission Board’s relief partner, is working to help hurricane survivors in Cuba. The country lacks nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), resources and trained personnel so it will be a place of primary focus. BGR will initially work through four life-saving sectors (or emergency-type needs) — water, sanitation and hygiene; food security; shelter and nonfood items; and health.
Haiti took a direct hit from the hurricane Oct. 4 but is supplied with NGOs and ministries that have been there since the 2010 earthquake and were able to deploy immediately. Haiti “is not a priority at this point for Baptist Global Response although we will be doing small projects with local personnel,” according to Pat Melancon, managing director of BGR’s disaster response and training.
The greatest need “is for funding that will enable us to effectively and efficiently address the situation,” Melancon said.
Rick Lance, SBOM executive director, said any contribution made through sbdr.org/donate “will be used entirely to help people impacted by Hurricane Matthew. … It is Alabama Baptists’ faithfulness through Cooperative Program giving that allows this 100 percent commitment.”
To give mail a check for “Hurricane Matthew Relief” to SBOM, P.O. Box 11870, Montgomery, AL 36111, or visit sbdr.org/donate.
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