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Hurricanes deplete DR funding

GETTING READY — Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force volunteers from Belden Church, Belden, in Lee Association prepare for another day of service for the Lord on behalf of victims of Hurricane Michael in the Albany, Ga., area. Members of the Belden Church chain saw crew included (from left) Greg Mason, Donald Worthey, Barry Flanagan, Gary Mark, Sammy Green, and Richard Garrett. (Photo by Shane McGivney)

Story:

By William H. Perkins Jr.

Editor

Recent back-to-back, major mobilizations for two of the most destructive hurricanes to strike the U.S. since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 have drawn down Mississippi Baptists’ disaster relief funds and led to calls for financial gifts to continue response and recovery operations in the name of the Lord.

Volunteer members of the Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force, reflecting God’s concern for all by caring for people in crisis, were deployed to North Carolina after Hurricane Florence raked several states on the Eastern Seaboard on Sept. 14 and caused billions of dollars in damage and destruction. Then Hurricane Michael wreaked havoc along the Florida Panhandle on Oct. 10, leaving behind devastation  as far as Georgia and the Carolinas.

“The need is great. Resources are limited. Our equipment needs upgrading,” said Shane McGivney, director of men’s ministry and Task Force coordinator for the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (MBCB). “Financial gifts are greatly needed. Mississippi Baptists have been a strong presence in these responses, and we need help. We promise to be good stewards of every dollar given.”

McGivney projected more than 70 Task Force volunteers from Mississippi Baptist churches will be on the ground by the beginning of next week in Albany, Ga., where Michael caused significant damage as it moved inland and then back out to sea. He also estimated volunteers will be in the area through at least November of this year.

“We have 250 work orders so far for chain saw crews and debris removal in this two-county area alone,” he said. “There was no flooding but the need for chain saw and debris removal teams is great.”

An incident command center has been established at First Church, Albany, to dispatch the chain saw and debris removal teams. Even though the church sustained roof and ceiling damage, it has opened its kitchen facilities to relief workers for mass feeding service and a Mississippi crew is staffing that operation.

Disaster relief volunteers are also sleeping in the church’s Sunday School rooms, McGivney noted.

“Right now we have Mississippi Baptist disaster relief volunteers over here from Ripley in the far north of the state to the Gulf Coast in the south,” he said.

McGivney explained that tax-deductible financial gifts are most effective because:

  • Precisely what is needed, when it is needed, may be purchased to support operations during response and recovery as well as eliminate problems of outdated and unneeded items.
  • Handling, storing, documenting, and transporting financial contributions is easier and utilizes fewer resources than in-kind donations.
  • Monetary donations help prevent the “second disaster” of stockpiling useless in-kind donations. After every disaster there are often truckloads of materials that were completely unusable that must be distributed or rehoused, or disposed of. This takes valuable time, effort, and manpower away from assisting those in need.
  • Nonprofit organizations are able to provide tax-deductible receipts to donors.
  • Purchasing products in a disaster-impacted area helps rebuild the local economy. Getting the wheels of the economy moving in a disaster area is a key component in the recovery process.
  • Leveraging pre-established relationships and making wholesale/bulk purchases allows voluntary organizations to purchase more for their money.

Checks should be made payable to the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board and designated to Disaster Relief on the memo line, then mailed to MBCB at P.O. Box 530, Jackson, MS 39205. For more information, contact the MBCB Men’s Ministry Department at the above address. E-mail: dvail@mbcb.org. Telephone: toll-free outside Jackson (800) 748-1651, ext. 335, or (601) 292-3335. Web site: mbcb.org.

Meanwhile, Baptist Press (BP) reported Hurricane Michael damaged at least 50 Southern Baptist church buildings in Florida and Georgia with some virtually destroyed, according to initial estimates.

“It’s like being hit by a bomb and your life is just disrupted, turned upside down, and you begin to try to put the pieces back together,” said Dwight Woods, pastor of 200-member Family of God Church in Panama City, Fl., told BP.

At Family of God Church’s west campus, the fellowship hall collapsed and 30 feet of the sanctuary roof was ripped off, while the church’s east campus saw half of the roof torn off and module buildings damaged, Woods reported to BP.

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