Baptist and Reflector
KINSTON, N.C. — The feeding unit of Sullivan Baptist Association, along with supporting units from Watauga, Holston and Knox County Associations, are set up and are providing 6,000 meals a day, said Wes Jones, disaster relief specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
Jones noted that in addition to the Sullivan Association feeding unit, a new unit from Sevier Heights Baptist Church, Knoxville, is on site and assisting with meal preparation.
Jim Ramey, disaster relief director for Sullivan Baptist, said the teams are preparing meals for 10 Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles and one Salvation Army Canteen that are taking the meals into areas where the food is needed. Ramey said the number of meals needed could increase as the week goes on.
The Tennessee volunteers are among Southern Baptists across the country who are responding in the wake of Hurricane Florence.
Since Florence made landfall Sept. 14, SBDR volunteers have served more than 46,000 meals in North and South Carolina through the work of more than 400 volunteers. The storm dumped more than 30 inches of rain in some locations and has caused at least 37 deaths, according to media reports.
Jones said Tennessee Baptist recovery teams from Knox County Association of Baptists were relocated from Kinston to New Bern, N.C., where the damage was more extensive. The teams will be doing mud out of flooded homes in the area.
Jones added that additional mud out volunteers will be needed, but not now. There are areas still under water and teams cannot get into those locations yet.
“Be patient,” he advised. “The storms are gone, but water is still rising. Additional flooding is predicted for the next two or three days in North Carolina and possibly longer in South Carolina.”
The Knox County recovery volunteers are located at Temple Baptist Church in New Bern, the site of a Sept. 19 visit from President Donald Trump.
According to Baptist Press, Trump visited with volunteers and helped pass out meals.
“I was literally thinking” the president’s visit would last 15-20 minutes, said Jim Pennington, pastor of the host church. But Trump “just settled in. He started meeting people and asking questions, looking people in the eye and saying, ‘Tell me about your house.’ ”
The Knox County team was on site helping home owners clean out their house which had about two feet of water from flooding caused by the hurricane. Stanley Roach, volunteer from Lyons Creek Baptist Church, Strawberry Plains, said volunteers had been told the president would be in the area, but the actual location was kept secret.
He said his team learned President Trump had been at the church they are staying once they returned to the church for dinner. “We had more important things to do,” he said. The team assisted an elderly couple who had no flood insurance and had lost all they owned. In addition, the wife of the couple is recovering from cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy.
“It’s a sad situation,” Roach said, but noted that the Knox County team ministered to the couple and prayed with them before they left for the day. They were scheduled to return on Thursday, Sept. 20, and Roach is hopeful that doors have been opened for additional ministry to the couple.
Roach confirmed that the New Bern area was hit hard by flooding.
As of Sept. 19, Roach said the church had already received about 200 requests for mud out assistance and that did not include any requests that came in that day. While they did some chain saw work, Roach said 90 percent of the needs will be flood recovery. Most homes in the area had about two feet of water, he observed.
Jones said shower/laundry units may be needed in the days ahead, but again stressed patience. “At this point we just don’t know what we will need. Everything changes daily.”
Jones encouraged Tennessee Baptists to continue to pray for those who have been affected by Florence Also, pray for teams as they travel and serve as the hands and feet of Jesus, he encouraged.
Donations for hurricane disaster relief efforts can be made at http://tndisasterrelief.org/contributions/.
“Please do not let your donations to Disaster Relief interfere with what you and your church are doing for the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions offering,” Jones said. “The GOTM offerings along with the Cooperative Program giving of the churches provide the lifeblood of what we do here in Tennessee and around the world.” — Article includes reporting by Baptist and Reflector Editor Lonnie Wilkey and David Roach of Baptist Press.