NEW YORK CITY – Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) units escaped significant damage from the nor’easter that dumped up to a foot of snow in various areas of the Northeast.
All SBDR operations were suspended for the duration of the storm Wednesday afternoon, but volunteers were back at work Thursday morning.
North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM) also hunkered down for the storm, thankful that the snow wasn’t worse. Manna One, NCBM’s largest feeding unit was rerouted from Atlantic City to the Meadowlands earlier this week, beginning food distribution Nov. 6, but halting for the storm.
“Recovery teams are doing mainly tearout work with just a few tree jobs,” according to one update from NCBM. The mass feeding and recovery effort is being supported by a number of teams: shower, laundry, communications, chaplaincy, medical, assessment, administration, and others.
While Manna One was rerouted, NCBM is still hosting a shower, laundry and chaplaincy team in Atlantic City.
On Long Island the Kentucky kitchen number four had a tent roof collapse, but there were no injuries. The unit was operational again within hours. The South Carolina and Pennsylvania-South Jersey teams serving at Hammonton, N.J., served 4,750 lunches on Thursday.
The nor’easter that blanketed the Northeast affected disaster relief work including the North Carolina Baptist Men who had to shut down operations until the storm blew by.
View the Hurricane Sandy disaster relief photo gallery.
“The snow was not as bad as it could have been,” said North American Mission Board DR executive director Fritz Wilson. “Other than the Kentucky tent, we did not have any real issues. Everyone weathered the storm and is ready to get back to work.”
All the teams had to clear the snow from its tarps and tents so work could continue.
Perhaps the most notable damage involving Southern Baptists from Wednesday’s storm was that to the home of Metropolitan New York Baptist Association executive director George Russ.
“I was on my way home from work,” Russ said. “It is usually about an hour, but with the storm it took more than four. I called my daughter Amanda from the train and asked if she could go feed my dog. She lives around the corner.”
Amanda was in Russ’ home when a tree fell on the house.
“I’m thankful she was not injured,” Russ said. “She is seven and a half months pregnant. But she was OK.
“The tree was a 40-foot pine. It snapped over my house. It destroyed my front porch, and did roof damage on the front and rear of the house. Gutters, too.”
North Carolina Baptist Men disaster relief volunteers prepare food to help people recovering from Hurricane Sandy as well as relief workers providing aid to the affected areas.
SBDR volunteers from Tennessee and Texas arrived at Russ’ home Thursday to remove the debris and put tarps over the roof damage.
“These volunteers have everything just about cleaned up,” Russ said. “They are eating lunch in my kitchen. They will have tarps in place so the house will be okay until we can get the repairs completed. The insurance adjuster said it would be Monday at the earliest before they are here.”
Russ said the recovery efforts in New York are going as well as can be expected. His office is now the New York incident command headquarters. North American Mission Board (NAMB) disaster relief team leader Mickey Caison heads the effort.
“There are challenges here in the city,” Russ said. “Southern Baptists do not have a lot of churches in the city, so finding places for volunteers to stay has been tough. But things are turning the corner.”
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief leaders received praise from the chief of the Federal Emergency Management Administration via conference call Wednesday for their response to Hurricane Sandy.
“Thanks to everyone,” said Craig Fugate, FEMA administrator. “It has been a busy time. The President and the rest of the team appreciate Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. This will not be a short response. We still have a lot to do. Until people are back in their homes, Southern Baptist [volunteers] will be needed. Thank you for all that Southern Baptist Disaster Relief has done.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board. Southern Baptists and others who want to donate to the disaster relief operations can contact their state conventions or, via the web, contribute to NAMB’s disaster relief fund at www.namb.net/disaster-relief-donations. Other ways to donate are to call 1-866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.” North Carolina Baptist Men updates are available via its website, baptistsonmission.org/sandy, or its Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/ncmissions. Donations can be made on the website or make checks payable to N.C. Baptist Men. Designate checks for Disaster Relief and mail to: N.C. Baptist Men, Baptist State Convention, P.O. Box 1107, Cary, NC 27512. All of N.C. Baptist Men’s regular budget comes from the N.C. Missions Offering. For pictures from N.C. Baptists, visit facebook.com/ncmissionsdisasterrelief.)