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2004 Disasters

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Disaster Relief vols return home after long activation

Disaster Relief Task Force photo

MEAL PREP - Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force volunteer George Eagle, a member of Central Church in Meridian, opens large food cans on an automated opener at the Mississippi Baptist mobile feeding unit in preparation for victims of Hurricane Jeanne. Eagle is one of an estimated 1,500 Southern Baptist volunteers in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and West Virginia in the aftermath of Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne with services that include mass feeding, cleanup and recovery, shower trailers, child care, laundry, and communication. The Mississippi unit prepared about 200,000 of the more than two million meals for which Southern Baptists were responsible. (Photo courtesy of North American Mission Board/John Swain)

October 11, 2004 — The Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force has returned to Mississippi from hurricane-ravaged Florida after being activated in August, September, and October to assist storm victims, according to Don Gann, consultant in the Men’s Ministry Department of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board in Jackson.

The Task Force’s fully self-contained mass feeding unit, which is based on a tractor-trailer rig packed with commercial cooking gear and thousands of meals, is in its berth at Central Hills Retreat near Koscuisko, and the Mississippi Baptist volunteers who staffed the mobile kitchen are resting at their homes, Gann said.

The Task Force was activated on August 14 after Hurricane Charley devastated Florida, and prepared meals from the parking lot of First Church in Arcadia Fla. until September 1. The Task Force returned to Mississippi but was reactivated for Hurricane Ivan on September 14 and deployed to Pascagoula, Meridian, and eventually Gulf Shores, Alabama. When Hurricane Jeanne struck Florida, the Task Force moved to the parking lot of Westside Church in Ft. Pierce, Fla., and prepared meals until October 8.

The only hurricane so far this season for which the Mississippi Baptist unit was not activated was Hurricane Frances, which raked Florida between Charley and Ivan.

Preliminary estimates indicate that the Mississippi unit has prepared about 200,000 meals since being activated for Charley, part of the Southern Baptist disaster relief effort that has seen disaster relief units from dozens of Baptist state conventions prepare well over two million meals since Hurricane Charley came ashore. The final total of meals prepared by Southern Baptists will set a new record, officials predicted.

“I was pleased with our folks and their ‘can do’ attitude. When they weren’t preparing meals, they were looking for other ways to assist the storm victims. They found things to do,” Gann said.

While stationed at Westside Church, Gann said, the Mississippi Baptist volunteers on the scene attended the church’s services. “The congregation would give us a standing ovation whenever we were in one of their services,” he recalled.

Gann also said he and the members of the Mississippi Baptist unit watched as other disaster relief organizations ran short of volunteers, due to the extended deployments brought on by the unusually active hurricane season.

“We weren’t even close to running out of Mississippi Baptist volunteers,” Gann said, with a big smile.

Due to the frequency and severity of the 2004 hurricane season, which still has nearly two months to go, the Task Force is accepting cash gifts through the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board to defray the cost of the unit’s multiple activations and to fund the on-site purchases of food supplies and other necessities. The Task Force is presently not accepting clothing, foodstuffs, or other items.

Fully 100% of gifts designated for the Task Force are used for specific, on-site disaster relief needs. Gifts to the Margaret Lackey State Missions Offering and the Mississippi Cooperative Program provide the annual funding for the unit’s maintenance, repair, administration, and training.

To make a tax-deductible gift toward Mississippi Baptists’ disaster relief efforts, make checks payable to Mississippi Baptist Convention Board and designate “2004 Hurricane Relief” on the memo line. Mail to:

Mississippi Baptist Convention Board
ATTN: Business Office
P.O. Box 530
Jackson, MS 39205-0530

For frequent updates on the Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force and how to assist hurricane victims, go to www.mbcb.org.

View additional Mississippi Baptist disaster relief photographs:

Additional Baptist disaster relief information and photographs can be found at www.sbcdrphoto.org and www.namb.net/dr.