By Lonnie Wilkey
MOUNT JULIET —In the aftermath of Hurricane Laura, Tennessee Baptists are on alert and ready to go out as needed, affirmed Wes Jones, disaster relief specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
Louisiana took the brunt of the Category 4 hurricane, which is considered by some to be one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the United States. The hurricane struck near Lake Charles near the Texas-Louisiana border.
During a conference call of state disaster relief directors on Aug. 28, a Texas Baptist DR official reported Texas DR can handle the damage in their state and be ready to assist in Louisiana within two weeks.
Flooding was not as bad as predicted because the storm surge did not reach its anticipated height, but the hurricane’s high winds caused extensive tree damage and caused power outages throughout the region.
Louisiana officials reported the state has extensive wind damage and power outages from the Gulf Coast up through Shreveport. Louisiana Baptist DR personnel are trying to find locations to set up operations. They are dealing with many areas without both electricity and water. The water treatment plant in Lake Charles was demolished, one DR leader reported.
With few exceptions, Louisiana is not accepting outside teams right now, Jones said. He confirmed that Tennessee DR is on the list of outside teams to be called if needed.
Though states near Louisiana were expected to receive damage from high winds and flooding, Jones has not received any requests. WKRN News in Nashville confirmed that two EF-0 tornadoes were reported in Warren and Putnam counties on Aug. 28, but Jones has not been contacted by officials from those counties.
Jones said Aug. 31 that TBDR teams remain on alert for deployment when requested.
Jones also reminded volunteers that participants in DR response to Hurricane Laura must understand that “this response is being conducted in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. All volunteers by virtue of their agreement to participate are indicating that they understand the enhanced danger the pandemic brings to the normal risks and dangers inherent with disaster relief work.
“Volunteers are representing that they have been free from any symptoms of COVID-19 for at least the last 14 days and agree, if they become symptomatic, to immediately notify their team leader, avoid further contact with others on site, and leave as soon as possible to avoid jeopardizing others. Volunteers must practice CDC recommended guidelines whenever and wherever possible,” Jones added.
People interested in contributing to DR for 2020 hurricane/tropical storms can visit the website at tndisasterrelief.org and click on contributions. Checks, designated for 2020 hurricane/tropical storms, can be mailed to Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief, P.O. Box 682789, Franklin, TN 37068. B&R