|ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) -- Southern Baptist Disaster Relief units are in action in 15 states in response to recent storms in the mid-Atlantic, flooding in Florida and wildfires in Colorado.
"It's a busy time," said Mickey Caison, the North American Mission Board's disaster relief team leader who is in Colorado assisting relief efforts with the wildfire in the state.
"The majority of the states have been able to handle it on their own. We have a few that we are assisting with water and some other resources -- like Colorado and the two Virginia conventions," Caison said in reference to Baptist conventions in the respective states.
Two of the North American Mission Board's new 53-foot, 18-wheel tractor-trailers were deployed for the first time to deliver much-needed water to Virginia on Monday morning, July 2.
The new tractor-trailers, driven by Tennessee Baptist disaster relief volunteers, arrived at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., on Tuesday morning with 39 pallets of water -- about 120,000 bottles. Thomas Road and the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia (SBCV) set up a "cooling station" at the church after powerful storms battered the eastern United States on Friday evening, leaving at least 22 dead and more than 2 million people without power.
The cooling station provides area residents with a place to cool down, get water and rest as temperatures have reached triple digits over the past few days. The church also is providing snacks to residents. The bottles will come at just the right time as the SBCV and Thomas Road have been providing water since Saturday and were beginning to run low.
"The neat thing about this event is that it's definitely a local church event," SBCV disaster relief director Jack Noble said. "Every one of our churches has the opportunity to get involved. ... They don't need any training they just have to go be Christ."
Two pallets of the water will also be delivered to the Virginia Baptist Mission Board (VBMB), whose volunteers were feeding people in the Highland, Bath and Alleghany counties of Virginia. The Tennessee volunteers also delivered 80 rolls of roofing material to the SBCV, the VBMB and North Carolina Baptist Men who are all helping with relief efforts in their states.
In fire-ravaged areas of Colorado, disaster relief work also is continuing. Caison said the Fort Collins area is moving into the recovery stage.
"We set up a receiving center for folks to make applications for support and work up in the mountains," Caison said. "We did some preliminary assessment and identified areas where we can help. We're working on the details of that today (July 3)."
Additionally, Oklahoma and Colorado units have set up a feeding unit at Vanguard Baptist Church in Colorado Springs. With 70 percent of the fire contained now, Caison said the unit will be closed either Tuesday or Wednesday as some area residents return to their homes in that fire-affected region.
Florida Baptist disaster relief units, meanwhile, are working in three locations in the state in the aftermath of historic flooding following Hurricane Debby's onset in late June. The storm deluged several parts of the state, although its gusts never got above 45 miles per hour.
Fritz Wilson, the Florida Baptist Convention's disaster relief and recovery team strategist, said the state's Baptists are gearing up for a heavy response in Live Oak, one of the state's hardest-hit towns.
"They received 20 inches of rain and the town just filled up like a bowl," Wilson said. "There are all kinds of sink holes. There was 8 to 10 feet of standing water in houses. The water is just now receding because it had to soak through the water table to go down." Continued...