Update on Current Disasters
Disaster relief not finished?
By William H. Perkins Jr.
The work of the Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force has been closed out in the East Coast states affected by a cluster of massive hurricanes earlier this year, but the coordinator of disaster relief for Mississippi Baptists believes it soon may be time to look westward.
“People caught up in the historical wildfires in California are probably going to need help – a lot of help,” said Shane McGivney, director of men’s ministry for the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (MBCB). “There has not yet been a formal call for assistance, but the devastation in the affected areas is immense.”
Disaster-trained chaplains are in the areas now, McGivney said, to offer comfort and counseling to grieving residents whose loved ones are on the list of almost 100 people killed and whose homes and businesses burned to the ground. Preliminary estimates are that 14,000 homes were destroyed and nearly 500 were seriously damaged.
The northern California towns of Paradise and Magalia were mostly wiped out by the Camp Fire that began Nov. 8 and lasted until Nov. 25. In what has been termed a miracle from God, three Southern Baptist churches survived the fires even though other properties situated closely on all four sides of the churches were destroyed.
“We want to do everything we can to help those churches be places of peace and refuge for all the hurting people out there right now,” McGivney said.
Sam Porter, national director for disaster relief with Southern Baptists’ North American Mission Board (NAMB) in Alpharetta, Ga., thanked volunteers who continued to step up even when fatigue set in during a demanding and difficult 2018.
“I cannot say ‘thank you’ enough to the Southern Baptist Convention, the 47,000 churches that support SBDR
[Southern Baptist Disaster Relief] by providing volunteers and donating funds,” Porter said. “It’s an incredible thing that we don’t accept government funds but are supported by our own Southern Baptist churches.”
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, in which the Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force plays a leading role, is among the three largest providers of disaster relief assistance in the United States. Southern Baptist churches, associations, and state conventions all partner to mobilize volunteers, resources, and equipment to provide services. NAMB provides national coordination and assistance in larger, multi-state responses.
To learn more about disaster relief efforts, contact the MBCB Men’s Ministry Department at P.O. Box 530, Jackson, MS 39205-0530. Telephone: (601) 292-3335 or toll-free outside Jackson (800) 748-1651, ext. 335. E-mail: email@example.com. Web site: mbcb.org.
Tax-deductible financial gifts to meet disaster relief needs can be sent to MBCB at P.O. Box 530, Jackson, MS 39205-0530, McGivney said. Checks should be made payable to the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board and designated to Disaster Relief on the memo line.
Editor’s note: Baptist Press contributed to this article.
MSDR has been asked by Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief to adopt Albany, GA. The citizens have experienced extensive tree damage due to the wind strength of Hurricane Michael. Currently, we have credentialed chainsaw teams responding to the 350 job requests we have to date. We are in need of more credentialed chainsaw volunteers. Please e-mail Shane McGivney at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are credentialed and can help.
September 25, 2018 – A team of volunteers from the Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief State Task Force is in Bolivia, North Carolina feeding people in need. We also have a team doing mud-out in the same area. Several associations are putting together mud-out teams to send in the coming weeks. Local associations and the state Disaster Relief office are working together to build mud-out teams led by credentialed Disaster Relief volunteers.
The DR State Task Force is on stand-by and preparing for deployment due to Hurricane Florence. Teams will be needed for extended response over the next few weeks.