ALPHARETTA, Ga. — More than 300 volunteers staffing some 50 Southern Baptist Disaster Relief crews from nine state conventions are now on the scene in the west Atlanta areas ravaged by recent flooding — preparing meals for victims and volunteers, cleaning out muddy homes and removing debris.
Southern Baptist feeding units located at First Baptist Church-Chattahoochee and First Baptist Church of Austell had prepared more than 8,600 hot meals as of Oct. 1, reported Bruce Poss, disaster operations coordinator for the North American Mission Board (NAMB) based in Alpharetta.
More than 70 “mud-out” jobs already have been completed by Baptists since the flood, from some 200 work requests by local flood victims. In addition to feeding and recovery units, Baptists also are providing victims and volunteers with units for hot showers and laundry. Chaplains are available for counseling.
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams have been mobilized from state conventions in Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Texas (Texas Baptist Men), South Carolina, Nebraska, Tennessee and Virginia (SBCV and VBMB).
North Carolina Baptist Men have an assessment team leading its efforts.
“We’re going to be involved in this for two or three weeks,” said Stuart Lang, disaster relief director for the Georgia Baptist Convention. “But I feel very good about the way things are going. We have a good infrastructure system in place to process the orders (from flood victims) and get them into the hands of the people doing the work.
“I also feel good about how our local churches and associations have gotten on board,” Lang said. “They may not all be fully disaster relief-trained, but we have helped many of them understand how to do mud-out work safely and efficiently. A lot of credit should go to the churches that are going out and doing the work without waiting on us. It’s a great testimony to the servant-spirit of our churches and pastors.”
Lang said Cobb, Paulding and Douglas counties were the hardest hit areas, especially Austell, Ga.
“We also need to remember those who lost loved ones as a result of the flood,” Lang said. “The death count is up to 19.”
To get help from Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, flood victims can call a toll-free number, (800) 460-6881. The call center at NAMB is being staffed between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. seven days a week. All flood recovery and mud-out work done by Southern Baptists is done by trained volunteers without charge to the homeowner.
Call center personnel will collect the homeowner’s information and forward that to Southern Baptist assessment teams. Individuals requesting assistance must be the homeowner and primary resident of the home. NAMB’s call center also can handle calls from Hispanic flood victims in the greater Atlanta area.
Southern Baptists have established flood response operations in Austell, Lithia Springs, Mableton, Douglasville, Powder Springs, Toccoa, Summerville and Trion.
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief operations in Georgia are being coordinated jointly by the Georgia Baptist Convention and NAMB.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Noah is a writer for the North American Mission Board.)