North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM) staff and volunteers were
already mapping out a plan of action less than 24 hours after Hurricane Irene
came ashore North Carolina’s coast. The Category 1 storm pounded the state’s
coast with rain and wind most of the day Saturday, leaving thousands of North
Carolinians still without power.
Some parts of the state fared better than expected, such as
Oak Island, where the N.C. Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell sits. No damage was
Richard Brunson, NCBM executive director-treasurer, said the
hardest hit areas in the state appear to be near Pamlico Sound, Carteret
County and the Outer Banks. Trained NCBM assessors have been on the ground
since Sunday night and early today surveying the damage and helping identify
the greatest needs.
“In any disaster, we try to find out where we are needed
most, and we have to base that on good information. We rely on our assessors to
help us make these decisions,” Brunson said. “Then, we find hubs where we can
serve out of. Places where volunteers can eat and sleep, and then go out into
surrounding communities to work.”
As of Sunday afternoon, NCBM had identified three “hubs,”
with the possibility of adding more. Brunson said sometimes the hardest hit
areas lack good communication, so adding more feeding and recovery sites is
certainly a possibility.
NCBM will set up a feeding/recovery unit at First Baptist
Church in New Bern; Memorial Baptist Church in Williamston; and Manteo Baptist
Church. NCBM will set up its State Recovery Unit at The Memorial Baptist Church
in Greenville. Those sites will be ready for feeding by Monday morning.
Volunteers serving with the recovery units will be helping
with anything from mudouts to chainsaw work and removing trees and debris from
Interested volunteers should visit baptistsonmission.org.
NCBM will contact them as soon as they are able to assess where they can be of
“It is too early at this point to know how long the feeding
units will be needed,” Brunson said. “We expect at least a week. How soon
people are able to get power back to their homes will play a large part in
determining that. However, we expect the recovery process to be much longer.”
Disaster relief teams from nearby states are ready to come
and help if necessary.
Brunson expects to feed about 5,000 meals per day at each of
these sites. He said NCBM is also looking at doing satellite feeding in Buxton,
part of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. That relief effort may, depending on road
damage and accessibility, involve using helicopters to bring in food. This
plan, if needed, will be coordinated with Emergency Management and other
NCBM has also provided two sleeper units to the Air
Wing Guard stationed in Kinston. They are doing aerial evaluations of the
damage and helping assess the needs.
“Thank you for your prayers,” Brunson said. “Although this
storm had the potential to affect more people in more parts of our state, we
still have many people who need help and who need volunteers to quickly
respond. Please continue praying that we will be able to meet physical needs,
and that as we do so, we can share the love of Christ.”
Brunson also expressed appreciation to all North Carolina
Baptists who make NCBM disaster relief ministry possible. “The faithful
giving of North Carolina Baptists to the North Carolina Missions Offering keeps
this ministry going. We are thankful not only for your willingness to go and
serve during disasters such as Irene, but for your sacrificial giving that
makes it possible for us to respond in times of disaster.”
To donate to NCBM Hurricane Irene relief efforts, visit baptistsonmission.org.