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2011 Disasters

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Story from the September 1, 2011, Baptist Record

“Mississippi Baptists battle Irene in N.C., N.Y.”

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP and local reports) — As Hurricane Irene continued to churn northward through New England at printing deadline on August 30, the Southern Baptist disaster relief network is alerting volunteers and planning how and where to deploy Southern Baptist disaster relief units in the aftermath of the historic East Coast storm.

Don Gann, consultant in the Men’s Ministry Department of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board in Jackson, which manages the Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force, said volunteer teams from the state have been dispatched to North Carolina and New York to assist in response and recovery.

The Task Force’s fully self-contained, eighteen-wheeler mass feeding unit left Central Hills Retreat near West on the morning of August 29 headed for Wilson, N.C., near Raleigh, Gann said. The mass feeding unit, which has its own electricity, propane, and potable water systems, is staffed by trained Mississippi Baptist volunteers who can prepare thousands of hot meals per day.

The mass feeding unit is being accompanied by a shower unit from Lafayette and Marshall Associations, Gann said, along with chainsaw teams from Calhoun and Yalobusha Associations. A team from Pearl River Association is headed to Albany, N.Y., to assist in feeding operations in the central portion of that state.

An estimated 65 million Americans were in the path of Irene. Staff members at the North American Mission Board (NAMB) disaster operations center (DOC) in Alpharetta, Ga., are in talks with Southern Baptist Convention disaster relief leadership, said Bruce Poss, NAMB’s disaster relief coordinator in Alpharetta.

Hurricane Irene satellite image Planning also is underway with Southern Baptist’s partners in disaster relief — the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Red Cross, Salvation Army, and National VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters).

Irene brought torrential rainfall, wind gusts over 40 mph, significant coastal flooding, storm surge, and tornadoes to the East Coast and New England. Heavy rain also could impact areas around the periphery of the storm, including western Virginia, western Maryland, central Pennsylvania and central and western New York.

Widespread wind damage and power outages have been reported.

From its disaster operations center in Alpharetta, NAMB coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters through a partnership between NAMB and the SBC’s 42 state conventions, most of which have their own state disaster relief programs.

Southern Baptist disaster relief assets include 82,000 trained volunteers, chaplains, and 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, childcare, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild, and power generation.

Southern Baptist disaster relief is one of the largest mobilizers of trained, credentialed disaster relief volunteers in the United States, including the Red Cross and Salvation Army.

The Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force is supported by gifts to the Mississippi Cooperative Program, the Margaret Lackey Offering for State Missions, and donations to the Task Force.

To donate, make checks payable to the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, with “disaster relief” noted on the memo line. Mail to MBCB, P.O. Box 530, Jackson, MS 39205-0530. Donations can also be made online through the link near the top of this page.

For more information on the Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force, contact the Men’s Ministry Department at the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, P.O. Box 530, Jackson, MS 39205-0530. Telephone: (601) 292-3334 or toll-free outside Jackson (800) 748-1651, ext. 334. E-mail: cwright@mbcb.org. Web site: www.mbcb.org.