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2013 Disasters

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December 18, 2013

Miss. volunteers in Texas, Okla. for storm cleanup

JACKSON, Ms. -- Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force volunteers are in Texas and Oklahoma helping clear debris left by a severe winter storm Dec. 7-8 that blanketed the two states with a heavy layer of ice that some observers are saying will go into the record books. Jim Didlake, director of the Men’s Ministry Department at the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (MBCB) in Jackson and coordinator of the task force, said 10 volunteers are in the Dallas area and 16 volunteers are in Oklahoma.

Oncor, the company that manages electrical power distribution in north Texas, estimated that as many as 500,000 homes were without power at the height of the storm. That would represent one of the largest outages in the company’s history, the company reported. “The Dallas volunteers are disaster relief team members from Webster Association in Eupora and Gulf Coast Association in Gulfport,” Didlake said. “The Oklahoma volunteers are from Calhoun Association in Calhoun City, Yalobusha Association in Coffeeville, and Colonial Hills Church in Southaven.”

The volunteers are tackling chainsaw work and preparing heavy debris for removal to pick up points. The Dallas volunteers have encountered about 200 jobs, or requests for assistance, while the Oklahoma volunteers will probably be involved in “200-plus” jobs, Didlake said. “The task force’s boom truck is also in Texas, because there are so many hanging limbs presenting a hazard to anyone trying to work underneath,” he added.

All Mississippi Baptist volunteers are expected to return home by Dec. 20-21, Didlake said. The Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force is supported by gifts to the Mississippi Cooperative Program, the Margaret Lackey State Mission Offering, and disaster relief donations. For more information, contact the MBCB Men’s Ministry Department at 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.

Typhoon Haiyan

November 18, 2013

Southern Baptists on scene of Philippines typhoon;
Mississippi Baptist disaster relief unit standing by

By Don Gann, consultant
MBCB Men’s Ministry

Southern Baptists have been on the ground in the Philippines from the outset of Typhoon Haiyan. Philippine Baptist Disaster Relief has numerous trained national Baptists who are working in the affected areas responding and assessing. Plus, the International Mission Board (IMB) has numerous field personnel living in the Philippines who are assisting.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) is coordinated internationally by Baptist Global Response (BGR). A Rapid Assessment Team made up of disaster relief trained volunteers from Texas and Georgia is in country to support local Philippine Baptist churches, associations, and conventions. SBDR international response is done through state conventions that are on call during assigned months. Each month, two state conventions take the lead. (Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief is the first responder internationally during the months of January and July.)

Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief does not self-deploy, but will work in partnership with Philippine Baptists, BGR, IMB, the North American Mission Board, and state convention leadership to support our partners. At present, Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief is standing by to mobilize as requested.

Oklahoma Tornadoes

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

All of our teams have now returned from Oklahoma. We had five teams to go that were involved in clean-up, organization, and chaplaincy response. Several were there for the second large tornado. At present we are still responding with financial assistance as the initial work slows and makes ready for the rebuild effort. Our last teams are returning from Missouri. We had clean-up teams there, and the operation for that state is closing today. We will continue to monitor needs and requests from these states for future assistance.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force volunteers are wrapping up their work in Oklahoma, with one crew remaining in the Shawnee area that will complete operations by June 7. Jim Didlake, director of Men’s Ministry for the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board in Jackson and coordinator of the Task Force, said about 30 Mississippi Baptists have participated in the Oklahoma response.

Didlake also said Mississippi Baptist volunteers have been requested for the St. Louis area to assist there with chainsaw work and heavy debris removal after a violent storm front on May 31 spawned damaging tornadoes. Didlake said at least three teams of six volunteers each are needed for the St. Louis mobilization.


Thursday, May 23, 2013 (8 a.m.)

The Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force has been activated, and trained volunteers will be moving in to Oklahoma early next week to assist with heavy debris cleanup and removal. Southern Baptist Convention coordinators report that feeding needs are being met by the Oklahoma Baptist disaster relief unit along with Baptist units from surrounding states. Mississippi Baptists have been tasked with removing heavy debris and preparing it for disposal. This will include separating and sorting debris according to safe disposal regulations. Four teams consisting of about 25 Mississippi Baptist volunteers will be in the initial deployment. Plans are being made to rotate more Mississippi Baptist volunteers into the Moore, Oklahoma, area as the response effort moves into a long-term phase.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013 (3 p.m.)

As of this time, the Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force is on standby for activation as needed in response to the severe weather emergency currently underway in Oklahoma. The disaster area remains closed as first responders continue the search for survivors. Please check back for updates.

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A Message from Dr. Jim Futral, Executive Director Mississippi Baptist Convention Board

I know that you are already praying for the families in Oklahoma who have been impacted by Monday’s tornado. Pray for the responders and especially for those who will be ministering through the command post at First Baptist Church in Moore, Oklahoma. Pray for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, for other Baptist state conventions that will be moving their disaster units into place, and for the many volunteers who will be going to provide relief.

Some of you may receive questions regarding how people can help those whose lives and homes have been devastated. As always Jim Didlake and our Men’s Ministry staff are ready to answer questions and will have trained teams ready to go as areas open up and they are needed in the recovery efforts. The Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (MBCB) will accept financial donations to assist the Oklahoma victims. Checks should be made payable to MBCB with “Oklahoma Tornado Relief” noted on the memo line, and mailed to Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, Business Office, P.O. Box 530, Jackson, MS 39205-0530.

Thank you.


A Message from Kelly King, Executive Director Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma Women

www.okdisasterhelp.com

Oklahoma Baptists want to thank you for all of the kind messages, emails and prayers for our state as we have experienced the devastation from the past couple of days. We are still in the midst of assessing needs and rescue/recovery efforts are still in progress. I have lived in Oklahoma all of my life and have experienced the devastation of the Murrah Building bombing, the damage of tornadoes in 1999 and now this. I have to admit that I think this is the worst I’ve seen. The loss of children has been most heartbreaking. It’s almost too difficult to take it all in.

I know that many of you have experienced disasters and understand that there are many tough days ahead. Here are some specific ways you can pray and help those in need.

  1. Pray for those affected by the storms—especially those who have experienced the death of a child.
  2. Pray for our Disaster Relief volunteers and staff who are already mobilized.
  3. Pray for our churches as they seek to minister to the needs of their congregations. As far as we know, none of our SBC churches were damaged (a miracle!) and they are all collecting donations.
  4. Pray for responders who are still on the scene. More than 100 people were rescued throughout the night, but there are still at least 20 school children trapped under debris. We are still praying for miracles of life.
  5. Pray for hearts to be open and sensitive to the Gospel during this time.

Again, thank you for praying for our state.

South Mississippi Tornado

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Disaster Task Force feeding unit operations completed

Helping Tornado Victims photo

HELPING TORNADO VICTIMS — Gene Johnson, a member of First Church, Lumberton, and a volunteer with the Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force, checks on the progress of the evening meal being prepared Feb. 18 for victims of the EF-4 tornado that swept through Lamar and Forrest counties on the afternoon of Feb. 10. The feeding unit of the Task Force concluded operations on Feb. 20, but work crews remain in the area and plans are being made for long-term rebuilding. (Photo by William H. Perkins Jr.)

By William H. Perkins Jr.

Editor

More than 23,000 meals were prepared by Mississippi Baptist volunteers in the aftermath of the powerful tornado that caused widespread destruction in Lamar and Forrest counties on the afternoon of Feb. 10, according to the coordinator of the Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force.

Jim Didlake, director of men’s ministry for the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (MBCB), said the mass feeding unit from Briar Hill Church in Florence conducted operations from its base at First Church, Petal, with Baptist volunteers from across the state. The unit closed its feeding operations on Feb. 20.

In addition to the volunteers who staffed the mass feeding unit, the Task Force also activated 12 teams to conduct chainsaw operations, debris clearance, and blue tarp roof work, and that work will continue, Didlake reported.

More than 300 Task Force volunteers have been involved thus far in the disaster response, Didlake said. He estimated that Mississippi Baptist volunteers have worked on about 185 damaged or destroyed homes.

The unofficial tally of homes affected by the storm stands at 800. The Oak Grove community in Lamar County took a hard hit, as did the cities of Hattiesburg and Petal. A number of businesses also sustained heavy damage. The office of the Red Cross in Hattiesburg was flattened.

Structures in the southeastern corner of the University of Southern Mississippi, at the intersection of U.S. Highway 49 and Hardy Street, suffered significant damage. Those structures include the Old Fire Station and the Ogletree Alumni House.

High Climb photo

HIGH CLIMB — Volunteers with the Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force place blue tarps over a roof damaged by the Feb. 10 tornado that damaged or destroyed over 800 homes and businesses in Lamar and Forrest counties. (Special photo courtesy of Don Gann)

Donations Accepted

Checks should be made payable to MBCB, with “Miss. Disaster Relief” noted on the memo line. The address to mail donations is Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, P.O. Box 530, Jackson, MS 39205-0530. On-line donations can be made at http://mbcb.org/giving/.

Don Gann is a consultant in the MBCB Men’s Ministry Department and has been on the scene of the tornado since shortly after it touched down. “The Mississippi Baptist churches in the Hattiesburg area are some of the best organized and trained units in the Task Force. They have been coordinating with us and have a number of teams in the field that are not included in that volunteer total,” Gann said.

The National Weather Service has classified the tornado as an EF-4 with sustained winds of 170 miles per hour — only one step below some of the most powerful tornadoes ever recorded. The Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale is a standardized method of rating the magnitude of tornadoes. The scale runs from EF-0 with winds of 65-85 miles per hour, to EF-5 with winds greater than 200 miles per hour.

Didlake said the Task force is now moving into the rebuilding phase of its response, with follow-up meetings scheduled to determine long-term needs. “Once we meet with local Mississippi Baptist pastors whose churches partner with the Task Force, we will know what those long-term needs are. In the meantime, insurance matters and other considerations have to be resolved.”

An announcement will be made when the details of the rebuilding phase are worked out over the next several weeks, Didlake said. Rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina and other disasters involved donations of construction materials, skilled volunteers from the construction industry, and funding for the projects.

The MBCB is accepting financial donations to assist the victims of the violent weather. Checks should be made payable to MBCB, with “Miss. Disaster Relief” noted on the memo line. The address to mail donations is Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, P.O. Box 530, Jackson, MS 39205-0530. On-line donations can be made at http://mbcb.org/giving/.

“In-kind” donations, such as food, clothing, or equipment, are not being accepted at this time.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Baptists mobilize tornado response

Baptists Respond photo

BAPTISTS RESPOND — Joe Ross, a member of First Church, Meridian, and a volunteer for the Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force, helps prepare the Feb. 18 evening meal for victims of the EF-4 tornado that struck the Hattiesburg area in south Mississippi on the afternoon of Feb. 10. The Task Force, which currently includes chain saw, debris clearance, and blue tarp teams in addition to mass feeding units, is headquartered on the campus of First Church, Petal. (Photo by William H. Perkins Jr.)

By William H. Perkins Jr.

Editor

Mississippi Baptist disaster relief volunteers are still on the scene of a powerful tornado that tore through the Hattiesburg area on the afternoon of Feb. 10, damaging or destroying up to 800 homes and raking the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi.

The tornado, designated an EF-4 by the National Weather Service, flattened houses and extensively damaged at least one school in the Oak Grove community of Lamar County before heading eastward into Hattiesburg and Petal in Forrest County. The tornado’s footprint was estimated to be three-quarters of a mile wide, but no fatalities were reported among several hundred injuries.

The Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale is a standardized method of rating tornado damage. The scale runs from EF-0 with winds of 65-85 miles per hour, to EF-5 with winds greater than 200 miles per hour. Preliminary estimates put the speed of the winds associated with the Feb. 10 tornado at 170 miles per hour.

Don Gann, consultant in the Men’s Ministry Department of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (MBCB) which administers the Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force, reported at press deadline on the morning of Feb. 19 that about 75 task force members were currently in the Hattiesburg area conducting feeding operations, chainsaw operations, debris clearance, and blue tarp placement on damaged roofs.

“The Mississippi Baptist churches in the Hattiesburg area are some of the best organized and trained units in the Task Force. They have been coordinating with us and have a number of teams in the field that are not included in that 75-count volunteer total,” Gann said.

He estimated over 8,000 hot meals have been prepared by the Task Force as of the Feb. 18 evening meal. The feeding unit is operating on the campus of First Church, Petal, which was undamaged.

Among the associational disaster relief units that have been activated by the Task Force are Calhoun, Copiah, Covington/Jefferson Davis, Gulf Coast, Jackson, Pearl River, and Yalobusha. Other units are on standby.

“We have also started looking to the future and planning for the rebuilding phase of the response,” Gann said. “We’ll need construction supplies, and construction personnel on a rotating basis, for an estimated six months.”

For information on participating in the rebuilding phase, contact Carol Wright in the MBCB Men’s Ministry Department, 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.

The Mississippi Baptist Convention Board is accepting financial donations to assist the victims of the violent weather. Checks should be made payable to MBCB, with “Miss. Disaster Relief” noted on the memo line. The address to mail donations is Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, P.O. Box 530, Jackson, MS 39205-0530. On-line donations can be made at http://mbcb.org/giving/.

“In-kind” donations, such as food, clothing, or equipment, are not being accepted at this time.

In addition to donations, the Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force is supported by gifts to the Margaret Lackey State Mission Offering and the Mississippi Cooperative Program.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Larry Manuel photo

Larry Manuel of Briar Hill Church, Florence

Volunteers from all over the US descended on the Hattiesburg area helping those affected by the recent tornadoes clean-up. Baptist churches in Lamar and Lebanon Associations coordinated volunteers to affected areas. Work included debris removal, tarping roofs, moving furniture, and sharing the love of Christ.

Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief continues to support the efforts of churches with chainsaw teams, tarping teams, and a feeding team. The feeding unit is in place at Petal First Baptist Church preparing approximately 3400 meals per day.

Ruth Khonke and Becky Graves photo

Ruth Khonke of FBC, Lumberton, and Becky Graves of FBC, Clinton


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pearl River Baptist Association Disaster Relief photo

Disaster Relief team from Pearl River Baptist Association

Teams from MS Baptist Disaster Relief are serving for the 4th day in the Hattiesburg/Petal areas responding to assist those affected by the tornados of February 10, 2013.

Mississippi Baptist Churches in the Hattiesburg/Petal areas have effectively mobilized to help church members and neighbors.

MS Baptist DR is working closely with Lebanon Baptist Association (George Berger, AMD) and Lamar Baptist Association (Danny Henderson, AMD).

Feeding operations are centered at Petal First Baptist Church, Petal. The Briar Hill Baptist Church, Florence, feeding unit is preparing approximately 3000 meals per day. These meals are fed to volunteers working in the area and in support of American Red Cross who distributes food to affected areas.

The feeding operation will tentatively last for seven days.

Jim Didlake photo

Jim Didlake, director of Men’s Ministry and Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force coordinator


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

HATTIESBURG, Ms. (Special) – A total of six Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force teams had been activated by press deadline in response to the EF-4 tornado with 170 mile-per-hour winds that struck several areas of south Mississippi shortly before 6 p.m. on Feb. 10.

Jim Didlake, director of men’s ministry at the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (MBCB) and coordinator for the convention’s Disaster Relief Task Force, said the teams are being used in hard-hit Forrest and Lamar counties for chainsaw/debris clearance and “blue tarp” work where sheets of heavy plastic are stretched over damaged roofs so homeowners can return to their homes. A listing of the teams’ home bases was not available at press deadline.

Particularly hard-hit were the Oak Grove community in Lamar County and the Hattiesburg and Petal areas in Forrest County. Preliminary estimates put the number of structures damaged at over 200.

Didlake said Petal-Harvey Church in Petal, Temple Church in Hattiesburg, and Main Street Church in Hattiesburg have opened their facilities to the disaster relief teams. Food needs are being met at the present time by a number of Mississippi Baptist churches in the area, he added.

The Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale is a standardized method of rating tornado damage. The scale runs from EF-0 with winds of 65-85 miles per hour, to EF-5 with winds greater than 200 miles per hour.

The MBCB is accepting financial donations to assist the victims of the violent weather. Checks should be made payable to MBCB, with “Miss. Disaster Relief” noted on the memo line. The address to mail donations is Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, P.O. Box 530, Jackson, MS 39205-0530. On-line donations can be made at http://mbcb.org/giving/.

“In-kind” donations, such as food, clothing, or equipment, are not being accepted at this time.