LONGMONT, Colo. – Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers from at least four states – including North Carolina – have already joined fellow Baptists in Colorado to provide aid to survivors of destructive flooding in Colorado’s Front Range. The combination of steep mountains and heavy rains created torrents that washed out homes, bridges and roads from Estes Park to Boulder and beyond.
Communities as far east as Greeley and Dearfield also suffered flood damage from rain that began Sept. 10. The storm peaked on Sept. 12 when Boulder received more than nine inches, double the previous one-day record, according to the National Weather Service.
Authorities attribute six deaths to the flooding. At one point as many as 1,400 people were unaccounted for in the state. That number dropped to 200 by Thursday as power and cell phone service were restored across much of the region.
NCBM photo from Facebook
Flooding in Colorado has damaged as many as 16,000 homes as well as roads throughout the state. N.C. Baptists are part of the recovery effort.
“Things are going well as we are gearing up for clean up and recovery,” said Eddie Blackmon, North American Mission Board (NAMB) SBDR coordinator. Blackmon is serving in Longmont with Colorado Baptist Disaster Relief Director Dennis Belz. A NAMB mobile command center was headed to Longs Peak Baptist Church in Longmont to serve as the overall incident command center. NAMB is also dispatching a recovery unit and a semi load of supplies.
A North Carolina Baptist Men Disaster Relief Incident Management Team left Sept. 21 for Colorado and is responsible for site coordination in Greely, Colo.
“They are assessing the damage and developing a plan to help homeowners affected by the devastating flood,” said the NCBM Facebook page, which also indicated that the government estimates more than 16,000 homes were damaged during the flooding. “Please keep praying for the survivors as they adjust their lives to a new normal. Pray also for the leadership as they seek ways to help those in need.”
Volunteers from the Missouri Baptist Convention and Texas Baptist Men will staff incident management teams in Longmont and Loveland respectively, Blackmon said. Oklahoma Baptist SBDR volunteers are in route to man another management team in Boulder. The host churches are Orchards Baptist Church in Loveland and East Boulder Baptist Church. SBDR volunteers from other states are standing by to serve.
Colorado Baptist SBDR volunteers were preparing meals for distribution to survivors. Colorado volunteers are also manning aid stations at Colorado State Disaster Assistance Centers.
“They are ministering to the families and survivors of the floods,” said Blackmon. “They are taking job requests that we hope to begin fulfilling soon. Some of the best news today is that Lyons, the community that was an island, was opened today for residents to return.”
Blackmon said the spirit of cooperation from both city and county officials has been encouraging. He added that the positive reaction from government officials has even surprised some volunteers.
NAMB coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters through partnerships with 42 state Baptist conventions, most of which have their own state disaster relief programs.
Southern Baptists have 82,000 trained volunteers – including chaplains – and 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, childcare, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the three largest mobilizers of trained disaster relief volunteers in the United States, along with the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.
To donate to SBDR efforts, contact the Baptist convention in your state or visit https://donations.namb.net/dr-donations. Other ways to donate are to call (866) 407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.” Through N.C. Baptist Men, send donations to: P.O. Box 1107, Cary, NC 27512. Call (800) 395-5102, ext. 5599. Visit baptistsonmission.org or like the organization on its Facebook page.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board. Biblical Recorder Assistant Managing Editor Dianna L. Cagle contributed to this report.)