Editor’s Note: Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief has been asked by the North American Mission Board to oversee operations in the Rainelle, West Va., area. Efforts will include on site command, feeding volunteer teams, chaplains, assessors, and mud out teams. The Tennessee volunteers will be hosted by Calvary Baptist Church in Meadow Bridge, West. Va. Mud out teams are urgently needed. If interested in serving, contact Elizabeth Holmes in Tennessee Baptist DR at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 615-371-7926. Donations for disaster relief (designated for West Virginia) may be sent to TBC Disaster Relief, P.O. Box 728, Brentwood, TN 37024 or give online at www.tndisasterrelief.org.
By Josie Rabbitt & Jacob Brooks, NAMB
GREENBRIER COUNTY, W.Va. (BP) — Blue and “yellow” hard hats can be seen along eight West Virginia counties’ roads and streets — hats worn by Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers. Engaged in recovery assessment, the SBDR response teams are making their way through communities that were under water just days ago, answering calls for help from numerous West Virginians left without power, vehicles and even homes.
On June 23, torrential rains hit West Virginia, causing flooding that claimed at least 24 lives and more than 100 homes. More than 30,000 homes and businesses lost power.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) described the flooding as a “historic” tragedy and applauded the continued efforts of relief response teams such as the American Red Cross and various SBDR units, as reported by the Associated Press.
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin tweeted his appreciation for state partners who provided critical resources to West Virginia as quickly as possible and announced that FEMA will expand federal funding to eight counties: Fayette, Clay, Roane, Summers, Monroe, Greenbrier, Kanawha and Nicholas.
Though the opportunity to receive federal funds can help rebuild the demolished communities, the clean-up and recovery process has already begun, with funding a priority for SBDR volunteers as they serve survivors.
“We’re going to need blue and yellow hats into the foreseeable future,” said Danny Rumple, West Virginia Baptist Convention disaster relief ministry director. “We had a bit of rain after the initial flooding, but the sun’s out now. We can send those hats — those trusty volunteers — to go out and do what they were trained to do, to assess people’s homes for damage from the flood.”