As flood waters climb banks, close roads and wash over entire towns, Missouri Baptists remain ready to help their communities dry out.
First Baptist Church in Van Buren, Mo.
With some parts of the state seeing rain for four or five straight days and clocking more than a foot of precipitation over the weekend, Gov. Eric Greitens declared a state of emergency April 29. Since April 29, authorities have conducted nearly 100 evacuations and more than 30 rescues. According to media reports, at least three people have lost their lives. Please see related story.
A Missouri Department of Transportation road closure map appeared to be nearly solid with red dots across the state showing road closures, but it is the southern half along and below I-44 that has borne the brunt of the flooding.
First Baptist Church in Van Buren, 25 miles northwest of Poplar Bluff, is underwater. The building sits just a couple hundred yards from the banks of the Current River, although the waters have creeped up to the roof line. The previous record flood there was 29 feet; this flood has reached beyond 40 feet. Carter County Sheriff Richard Stephens said 100-150 homes and about 30 businesses in Van Buren have been impacted by floodwater. As of May 1, the city was under a curfew from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers including chaplains, assessors and mass care workers across the state have been put on standby for a response once the waters recede, but two recovery teams have already been called to Neosho.
John Yeats, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, issued an immediate call to support disaster relief efforts and pray for flood victims.
“I’m writing to ask you to support Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief efforts in the wake of significant flooding across southern Missouri,” he said. “Further, we are learning that a number of Missouri Baptist churches are under water. I am in contact with the pastors of these churches, and am seeking to reach out to more of our local churches that need our help.
“Please pray for the victims of the flooding, many of whom need to hear the gospel. Also, pray for [disaster relief leadership and volunteers].”
For more information, go to mobaptist.org/dr/dr-alert/.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Brian Koonce is a staff writer for The Pathway, mbcpathway.com, newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.)