By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector
MOUNT JULIET — “A lot of humanity is suffering because so many people are without their homes,” said Don Kohanski, disaster relief director of Hermitage Hills Baptist Church, Hermitage, who has served recently in Gonzalez, La., leading a shower/laundry operation.
“What we are doing is being backup for the teams who are really doing the work and helping the public. … We’re trying to help the people, giving them some kind of relief.”
The shower/laundry unit and its volunteers are set up at First Baptist Church, Gonzalez. The unit began serving Aug. 19.
Kohanski described seeing neighborhoods of houses in Gonzalez with almost everything that was in the house pulled out and placed on the street including insulation and drywall. He could see water lines on houses showing how high the water had been. Though most of the flood waters are down, he heard of residents who still had water, up to four feet, in their houses. Gonzalez is located about 25 miles southeast of Baton Rouge.
The unit was needed at the church, he explained. Mud-out volunteers, mainly from Mississippi, arrived there a few days ago. First Baptist, Gonzalez, was glad to host them but doesn’t have a shower. The volunteers used the six showers in the shower/laundry unit.
They also appreciated the clean clothes the Tennessee volunteers provided them by laundering their clothes, reported Kohanski. The Tennesseans also are washing clothes for the public.
Other Tennessee Baptist DR volunteers will arrive soon in Louisiana to help the thousands of flood victims, reported Wes Jones, director of Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief. About 60,000 homes in south Louisiana were flooded and 13 people died in the flooding.
A team of eight mud-out volunteers from Cumberland Baptist Association, based in Clarksville, and a team of 10 from Woodland Baptist Church, Brownsville, will leave Aug. 29.
Also the shower unit of Chilhowee Baptist Association, based in Alcoa, began serving in Denham Springs, La., on Aug. 22.
More mud-out volunteers are needed as well as DR chaplains and assessors, said Jones. Additionally, volunteers to relieve those currently working on the Hermitage Hills Baptist Church shower/laundry unit are needed, he added.
Volunteers may be DR trained or willing to work with DR trained volunteers, he said.
DR training is available Aug. 27 in Clarksville and Sept. 9-10 at First Baptist Church, Cleveland. Other churches are requesting training and that is being arranged, said Jones. For more information, go to www.tndisasterrelief.org or contact the TBDR office directly at 615-371-7926.
TBDR works in cooperation with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and the other 42 state Baptist conventions.
“DR volunteers need to go through us so we can arrange housing through NAMB and so they will be assigned to an area,” stated Jones.
To volunteer in Louisiana, contact Jones at email@example.com, 615-371-7927, or 712-253-4408.
A fund to support TBDR in this response has been set up and gifts can be given at tndisasterrelief.org to 2016 Louisiana Flooding Fund or by check made payable to the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Send the check to TN Baptist Disaster Relief, P.O. Box 728, Brentwood, TN 37024. Write on check the nature of any designation. Any checks received that do not have a designation will be used for general disaster relief.