Baptist Gear Up for Hurricane Ian Relief

In anticipation of Hurricane Ian, South Carolina and Georgia coastal residents braced for the storm’s final strike on Friday afternoon (Sept. 30), even as Floridians continued to grapple with the magnitude of the storm’s blow to the state. At 11 a.m. Eastern, the National Hurricane Center said Ian’s sustained winds were 85 mph making it a Category 1 storm, still powerful enough to topple trees and cause damage to manmade structures. Flooding is also a concern.

“It looks like Charleston will miss the worst of the storm but now our concern is Myrtle Beach,” said Susan Peugh, disaster relief director for the South Carolina Baptist Convention. “Landfall will coincide with high tide which will make the storm surge even worse.”

Weather officials said the South Carolina coast could see storm surge of 4-7 feet and considerable rainfall from the event.

“We are already receiving reports of downed trees,” Peugh said. “Because this will affect the entire state, we have put all of our units on standby.”

In Florida, media outlets used words like “staggering” and “overwhelming” to describe the intensity and vastness of the destruction Hurricane Ian left in its wake. In a media briefing Thursday (Sept. 29), Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the state had never seen a flood event of this magnitude. Describing damage to Sanibel Island, DeSantis told reporters, “It got hit with really biblical storm surge.”

The web site poweroutage.us reported 1.9 million Floridians without electricity Friday morning, with thousands of linemen deploying up and down the coast and throughout the state in an effort to restore power.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers coming from out of state made their way to Florida on Friday with many expected to arrive and set up over the weekend. Florida SBDR leaders and volunteers, who have staged people and equipment in Leesburg, are ready to move into hard hit areas as soon as officials complete search and rescue efforts.

A Send Relief truck loaded with supplies including bottled water, tarping for rooftops, and Shockwave treatment to disinfect and kill mold in flooded homes, left for Florida Friday morning. Send Relief, the Southern Baptist compassion ministry that is a cooperative effort between the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board, will send more supplies as needed throughout the response. Send Relief’s ministry center in Valdosta, Ga., is housing volunteers making their way to the state as well as a few pastors’ families who were forced to leave their homes in Florida.

“The Red Cross has told us they expect a need for at least 4.2 million meals,” said Coy Webb, Send Relief’s crisis response director. “Southern Baptists have established locations for seven kitchens and the potential for three more, bringing our daily meal capacity to 170,000 if that much is needed.”

Webb, who has led disaster relief efforts for the Kentucky Baptist Convention for 15 years, said kitchen sites are expected to be active by Monday evening and will continue as long as needed. Recovery teams that can place tarps on rooftops, remove debris from yards and cut down storm-damaged trees, will move in shortly after that. Mud-out teams will also be needed and that activity will begin as soon as homes can be assessed and jobs coordinated with local officials.

“We have some great volunteers and a great network,” Webb said. “Many of them will be needed for this response.”

To get more information or donate, text the word “Ian” to 888123 to Send Relief Hurricane Ian relief efforts or visit sendrelief.org. Hurricane Ian slides for use by churches and others are also available for download by following the text link or clicking “learn more” at sendrelief.org.

Source: Baptist Press

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