Updated Sept. 17, 7:00 a.m.:
Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief Strategist Mark Wakefield said the state has been asked to send its main feeding unit and shower unit to North Carolina. The units will be deployed this morning (Sept. 17) to a location to be determined. Wakefield said additional needs are likely to include mudout and chainsaw teams, along with administrative and heavy equipment teams.
“It is still raining and the situation is changing frequently,” Wakefield said, adding that information will be updated as needs are assessed.
Updated Sept. 13, 8:10 p.m.:
“Thank you, Alabama Baptists, for your tremendous desire to help those in the path of Hurricane Florence,” says Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief Strategist Mark Wakefield. Outside of financial donations to help with the effort at www.sbdr.org/donate, “waiting for the storm to pass, giving those on the ground an opportunity to assess and then addressing needs is the best course of action,” he said.
Wakefield wants to assure those desiring to give clothes or other goods that as needs are known the information will be shared. “At this point, we are not aware of what will be needed or where it will be needed,” he said. “While it seems like a worthy cause, gathering these things is not the most efficient way to help. At some point in the next several days, there may be a need for gift cards where people in need can go select and purchase the items they need. Not only does this assure that people can get what they need, but psychologically helps them to begin rebuilding what has been lost. This also helps the local economy in the aftermath of the storm.”
Stay connected to The Alabama Baptist and www.sbdr.org for updates on how to help.
The peak of Atlantic hurricane season has arrived, which has Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief (DR) volunteers on alert.
On Sept. 13, the National Hurricane Center was tracking five tropical systems ranging from a tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico to Hurricane Florence, a powerful hurricane with winds in excess of 100 miles per hour churning near the U.S. southeastern coast.
As residents from Georgia to Virginia watch Florence’s path, Alabama Baptist DR took to social media to alert volunteers to be ready for a “multiple-week response” to the expected damage from flooding, wind, tornadoes and downed trees.
Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM), asked for prayer for those in the path of Florence and said in a Facebook post that Alabama Baptists are “on the ready in terms of response.”
At the Facebook page of Alabama Baptist DR, officials said it was too soon to know what the specific needs would be, but that “logistical concerns and safety concerns will affect our plan.” The post noted that “partners in North and South Carolina are working diligently to get ready and across the Southern Baptist DR network, a strategic plan is being prepared.”
The anticipation of a DR response in the coastal states comes during the Week of Prayer for State Missions and the Myers-Mallory State Missions Offering. Gifts to the offering support Alabama WMU and Disaster Relief, along with church planting, partnership missions and church revitalization.
Funds from last year’s offering helped purchase needed equipment, including a pickup truck for towing trailers and shower units, a box truck for hauling equipment and a tow-behind aerial lift. Funds also provide emergency food supplies for volunteers and help support child care, shower and laundry units that can be placed into service in a crisis situation.
Hurricane Florence definitely qualifies as a crisis, as officials from the National Hurricane Center predict in excess of 2 feet of rain in some areas. Meteorologists were also watching tropical storms Isaac and Joyce and Hurricane Helene in the Atlantic.
In the Pacific, Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention (HPBC) Disaster Relief has been hard at work since Hurricane Lane dropped several inches of rain on the islands. Darrell McCain, DR coordinator for HPBC, said volunteers, including a team from Texas, has been doing mudout and mold remediation in homes on Hawaii’s Big Island.
“We have had several ministry contacts and gospel conversations,” McCain said in a Facebook post. “Please continue praying for the survivors, volunteers and our government employees working hard to keep our roads safe.”
McCain said Hawaii DR volunteers would be on “go” status until the islands were in the clear from Tropical Storm Olivia, which weakened as it neared land on Sept. 12. Still, Maui was hit with heavy rain and powerful winds, with forecasters predicting 5 to 10 inches or more of rain for Oahu, Maui and the surrounding small islands.
Though natural disasters can happen any time during the year, hurricane season is a good reminder that well-trained DR volunteers are always needed. New volunteers and current volunteers looking for additional training have two upcoming opportunities. Madison Baptist Association will offer DR training September 27–29 at Willowbrook Baptist Church in Huntsville and Dale Baptist Association will offer training at the Vineyard Christian Retreat in Ariton October 5–6.
More information on training and Alabama Baptist DR is available at www.sbdr.org and at Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief on Facebook or Alabama Baptist DR on Twitter.
To donate to Hurricane Florence DR efforts, go to www.sbdr.org/donate.