KEATON BEACH, Fla. (BP) – With the arrival of Hurricane Idalia in Florida’s Big Bend area, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) teams began assessing the damage in preparation for a response.
“We have been in touch with SBDR leaders in the storm’s path and been involved in preparations,” Coy Webb, Crisis Response director for Send Relief, told Baptist Press this morning (Aug. 30). “Currently, we are now just waiting for the storm to pass to begin assessment and response.
“Florida, Georgia and South Carolina SBDR have teams on standby and ready for response with several other states with teams on alert. Send Relief pre-staged its swift water rescue team in Florida and has activated resources such as tarping rolls, water, food and flood clean-up supplies at our Ashland (Ky.) warehouse and they are being mobilized now.”
Plans by Florida Baptist Disaster Relief were well underway prior to Idalia’s arrival.
“We are prepped and ready to move equipment as soon as it is safe to start doing so,” said David Coggins, FBDR director. “We have a couple of leaders in the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee getting our resources prepared to be delivered once we get our feeding and clean-up operations in place.”
FBDR is also working in conjunction with The Salvation Army and American Red Cross to meet area needs, said a Florida Baptist Convention spokesperson.
Baptists on Mission with the North Carolina Baptist Convention posted a photo of its swift water rescue team in Florida prior to Idalia’s arrival. “Please keep them in your prayers,” the post read.
Idalia made landfall in Keaton Beach at approximately 7:45 a.m. EST today as a Category 3 hurricane, said the National Hurricane Center. Maximum sustained winds registered at 125 mph with Cedar Key, 58 miles southeast of Keaton Beach, reporting a seven-foot storm surge.
By 1:30 p.m., Idalia was downgraded to Category 1 and had moved into southeast Georgia with sustained winds of 80 mph amid heavy rain. Storm surge warnings remained along the Georgia and South Carolina coasts.
National Hurricane Center Director Michael Brennan said that “considerable” threats remain with Idalia in terms of rainfall that can lead to urban and flash flooding.
“This is not a hazard you want to underestimate,” he said.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Scott Barkley is national correspondent for Baptist Press.)