As Hurricane Florence aims toward the North Carolina coast, Baptists on Mission, also known as N.C. Baptist Men (NCBM), calls on volunteers to be ready to respond.
Administrative leaders have been at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina in Cary preparing kits for potential sites as Florence is predicted to hit the state Thursday as a Category 4 hurricane.
With weather forecasters calling for record strength, high winds and heavy rainfall, relief leaders are encouraging North Carolinians to evacuate if called upon and seek shelter.
“Hurricane Florence is a powerful hurricane that could do major damage to the Carolinas and surrounding states,” according to the NCBM website (baptistsonmission.org). “We are preparing to respond. Please pray for those in the path of Florence as well as our disaster relief volunteers and other relief workers.”
NCBM staff have been on the phones updating its list of churches and associations that have commercial kitchens, beds and showers. With its stockpile of shower trailers and several large portable kitchens, NCBM has responded to many disasters in the past.
“Right now we are planning and preparing to respond to needs after Hurricane Florence makes landfall,” said an updated NCBM statement today. “It is very likely that we will need clean up volunteers for many weeks (or months) to come.”
The staff at Fort Caswell were busy today finishing preparations to evacuate Oak Island on Wednesday.
The staff posted a picture of a rainbow and said, “A reassuring sight to see today, God is good.”
Richard Brunson, NCBM executive director, welcomed Jack Frazier Sept. 10 as NCBM’s new disaster relief director. Frazier is a retired battalion chief for the Cary Fire Department. He has extensive experience in disaster relief and emergency management. He has volunteered with search and rescue for NCBM disaster relief for the past 10 years.
In an interview with the Biblical Recorder today, Frazier said NCBM has put three mobile kitchens on standby.
“We’re loading equipment,” Frazier said. “We’re getting everything ready to move.”
Frazier said 11 crews had been secured to respond as soon as the hurricane passes and sites are established, but the desire is to have 20 crews ready.
Volunteers have been stockpiling water in warehouses as well.
NCBM contacted the North American Mission Board (NAMB) about recruiting 16 more mobile kitchens from across its network, Frazier confirmed.
“We haven’t had a Category 4 hit North Carolina since Hurricane Hazel, 50 years ago,” Brunson said in an interview with NAMB. “It just depends where it comes in, but it’s a very powerful hurricane that could be devastating, catastrophic. Those are the words they’re using to describe Hurricane Florence.”
Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts may be disrupted in the state, Frazier said, but the plan is to continue with those efforts as soon as possible as well as any disruption in Puerto Rico with Hurricane Maria efforts.
“We just finished a training in Puerto Rico,” Frazier said. “We just trained 50 people to do disaster relief. They are going to be able to do some of their own work.”
Brunson pointed people to the website to volunteer or donate. If you would like to pay by check, please make it payable to NCBM, P.O. Box 1107, Cary, NC 27512. Designate “Hurricane Florence” or “disaster relief” in the memo line. Additionally, gifts to the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) also support ongoing disaster relief efforts by Baptists on Mission. If already a trained volunteer with NCBM, contact a regional coordinator or team leader to let them know of availability.
The offering provides most of NCBM’s annual support. Churches are encouraged to give generously to NCMO in the month of September.
Baptists on Mission published information online Sept. 11 about how churches can minister amid natural disasters.