Baptist and Reflector
BRENTWOOD — There is a reason Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief emphasizes fluidity in an “Introduction to Disaster Relief” course, said Wes Jones, disaster relief specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
On Friday, Oct. 7, DR leaders in the state were told they would be needed in Florida. A day later, however, Jones received a call that Florida did not receive as much damage as originally expected. The Tennessee teams were asked to go to Savannah, Ga., instead.
Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti on Oct. 4, causing massive destruction before hitting Cuba later that night. The damage in Cuba was not as extensive as first expected but some areas were hard hit.
In Haiti, nearly 900 deaths have been attributed to the massive storm. In the United States, at least 19 deaths have been linked to Hurricane Matthew.
Downgraded to Hurricane 3 status, Matthew hit Florida on the morning of Oct. 7 and moved along the East Coast, impacting Georgia and North and South Carolina. Each of the states endured heavy rain and massive flooding. More than two million people were evacuated from the hardest hit areas, according to news reports.
Jones said Tennessee DR will man the command site which will include the feeding unit of Sullivan Baptist Association, based in Kingsport, along with a shower/trailer unit from Holston Baptist Association, chain saw recovery units from the associations and Cumberland Baptist Association (based in Clarksville), assessors, and chaplains. Volunteers left on Monday, Oct. 10, for Savannah. They will set up operations at Southside Baptist Church there, said Jones, who was on his way to Savannah early Monday morning.
In relation to Haiti and Cuba, Baptist Global Response issued the following statement:
“BGR has been monitoring situations in each country and has decided to focus its response efforts in Cuba. We already have people on the ground who have received disaster relief training, and we have an established network of Cuban partners and churches that can help distribute aid efficiently. Conversely, Jamaica hasn’t suffered much damage and isn’t a priority for disaster response work. While the storm did affect Haiti, a number of other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are well established there as a result of the 2010 earthquake. They are already starting relief work. BGR will operate some small projects in Haiti with local personnel, but the country won’t be our main focus due to the prevalence of other NGOs.”
According to its website, BGR is not an official Southern Baptist Convention entity but it “undergirds the work of Southern Baptists worldwide and partners with others who are like-minded.”
Tennessee Baptist volunteers have responded to a number of disaster relief needs this year that have put a strain on the DR budget, Jones reported.
Tennessee Baptists interested in donating to hurricane relief can respond online at tndisasterrelief.org to 2016 Hurricane Matthew or by a check made payable to the Tennessee Baptist Convention and mailed to Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief, P.O. Box 728, Brentwood, TN 37024.