HOUSTON – North Carolina Baptists are preparing tens of thousands of meals a day for victims of Hurricane Ike in Texas.
In Baytown, 175 Baptist disaster relief volunteers produced 50,000 meals on Sept. 17 from the parking lot of a former K-Mart store, prepared from three kitchen units deployed by North Carolina Baptists on Mission. Team members were prepared to fix up to 30,000 more.
Lin Honeycutt of Raleigh said his team was a little nervous about generating a potential 80,000 meals a day as a mega feeding center, simply because, “We’d never done that many before.”
The N.C. Baptist distribution system included an on-site drive-through for victims to get their hot meals.
The drive-through count was 14,000 on Sept. 16 and 17,000 the next day, said Honeycutt, the “white hat” leader for the operation. “We’ve got the drive-through down to a science,” he said.
The North Carolina units include 22 convection ovens, 15 tilt-skillets and four generators. In addition to the drive-through, the North Carolina units packed as many as 30 Red Cross ERV’s (emergency response vehicles) at a time. Each ERV holds 500 meals, which the Red Cross delivers deeper into the local affected area.
In the largest SBC response to a natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina, Baptist disaster leaders foresee their feeding operations continuing at least two more weeks. Chainsaw and mud-out operations will go longer.
The N.C. Baptist operation is one of four “mega” feeding locations – along with ones in Houston, League City and Texas City – that Southern Baptists have established to feed hungry Texans impacted by Ike. Each mega center is geared up to provide up to 80,000 meals a day.
The Alabama and Florida feeding units had been slated to go directly into Galveston, the area devastated by Ike. But because of the severe damage, those units were redeployed to Texas City, adjacent to the high school football stadium.
As of Sept. 18, N.C. Baptists had served more than 183,000 meals, provided more than 800 showers and washed more than 100 loads of laundry.They had worked more than 650 volunteer days.