Baptist and Reflector
MOUNT JULIET — “What a difference a few days can make. Life changes fast in the DR world,” observed Wes Jones, disaster relief specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
For the first time Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are working three major disasters at once — Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
Jones reported on each of the operations.
Harvey — “We are closing down our operations in Sugar Land, Texas (Houston suburb) on Saturday, Sept. 23,” Jones said. He noted that chain saw and flood recovery units are still needed. “There is a lot of work to do and will be for some time. It is estimated that some 300,000 homes were affected by the storm,” Jones reported.
He noted that communities are still being discovered that have received little or no help to this point. “If you have a team and want to schedule it to go, let me know your dates of availability and we will schedule them through the Texas DOC.
“We will continue to help our Texas brothers and sisters for as long as we are able. They are always one of the first teams to come help other states.”
In addition to teams that were under the auspices of Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief, some churches and associations sent DR teams directly to places where they had connections with people in affected areas.
Among them was CrossNet Baptist Network, based in Cleveland. The team, working through connections of their director of missions Phil Taylor, has teams in both Houston and Florida.
As of last week the team had six deployments mobilizing 55 volunteers from 12 CrossNet churches with three more deployments scheduled that will mobilize 30 to 40 more volunteers, according to Randy Bonner, DR director for the association.
He added that the association’s shower/laundry trailer has been in Houston for three weeks and will remain there until mid-October. In addition, the association hosted a TBMB DR training night at First Baptist Church, Cleveland, on Sept. 12 and had more than 100 new DR volunteers.
IRMA — Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief has had one cleanup team from East Tennessee in Florida, but they have not received the number of requests for help he had anticipated, Jones said. Floridians are getting back on their feet quickly in the area of the flood. Feeding units are already starting to close and return home. Recovery units are working in various parts of the state but they are not asking for more units at this time, he said.
“Continue to pray for those affected by the story and for continued opportunities to witness and see people come to know Christ as Savior,” Jones added.
MARIA — As of Friday, Sept. 22, Tennessee Baptists had been asked to send a feeding unit to Puerto Rico which suffered major devastation from Hurricane Maria, but that changed over the weekend, Jones said. As of Monday, Sept. 25, plans are on hold as FEMA reevaluates its options about sending SBDR feeding teams to Puerto Rico, Jones said.
“I am grateful for our faithful volunteers who are giving so sacrificially of their time, energy, and talents,” Jones said. “Pray for each of them. Pray also for our DR team leaders that God would give each of them the heart of a teacher as more people come to serve who have never done so before.”
Visit baptistandreflector.org for updates on disaster relief. If you would like to donate to the response effort, visit http://tndisasterrelief.org/contributions/ or mail a check to TBMB DR, P.O. Box 682789, Franklin, TN, 37068. Write “Hurricane Relief” in the memo line.