The Baptist Record
Baptists planning Dorian response
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By William H. Perkins Jr.
The Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force has switched to stand-down mode after Baptist response units in states affected by Hurricane Dorian reported that needs are being met by local units and no outside help is being requested – but a longer-term response to the massive storm’s devastation of the Bahamas is probably in the Mississippi task force’s near future.
Shane McGivney, disaster relief coordinator and director of men’s ministry for the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board in Jackson, said the indirect hit from Dorian taken by Florida and the U.S. East Coast allowed Baptist disaster relief units and other organizations in those areas to handle the response themselves.
“There was significant flooding and several tornadoes caused by Dorian, but local response has been enough at this stage,” he said.
McGivney explained the Mississippi task force responds to disasters along with scores of other Southern Baptist-affiliated organizations around the country, and such large-scale efforts are coordinated by Southern Baptists’ North American Mission Board in Alpharetta, Ga.
“In order to get disaster relief volunteers and supplies into the areas of most need in a timely manner, we coordinate out-of-state responses with our Baptist brothers and sisters,” he said.
McGivney said Tom Kilpatrick, coordinator of chaplaincy for the Mississippi task force, has been asked to be a part of a Baptist Global Response assessment team to survey how Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) should respond to the near-total destruction suffered in many areas of the Bahamas that endured a direct landfall by the then-Category 5 hurricane.
“We will be working directly with the Bahamas Baptist Convention,” McGivney said, “and it appears now that we will be sending Mississippi task force teams there. Exactly what types of teams and volunteer skills needed have not yet been determined, but we will probably be going soon to the Bahamas.”
McGivney also noted task force volunteers are still deployed in the Valley Park area of Issaquena County in response to Mississippi River flooding earlier this year.
U.S. news media have reported the Dorian death toll in the Bahamas at 50 people, with hundreds more missing or unaccounted for.
“Dorian developed into an incredibly strong storm, and we’re thankful that it did not make landfall [in the U.S.] as a major hurricane,” said Sam Porter, SBDR national director, as reported by Baptist Press.
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is among the three largest providers of disaster relief assistance in the United States. Southern Baptist churches, associations, and state conventions partner to mobilize volunteers, resources, and equipment to provide services.
BP reported the needs in the Bahamas center on providing temporary shelter in the short term, and aiding in repair and construction over the long term.
“There are a lot of churches there that we can come alongside and help as they help their countrymen, all for the glory of God,” Palmer told BP.