In Hurricane Ike’s wake, Florida DR teams deployed to Texas
By BARBARA DENMAN
Florida Baptist Convention
Published September 12, 2008
JACKSONVILLE (FBC)-Just a week after activating their units for a possible strike in South Florida, Florida Baptist disaster relief volunteers are being deployed to provide relief in Texas where Hurricane Ike will make landfall as an expected category 2 storm on Sat., Sept 13.
|Click on image for related coverage|
“We have been watching Ike for some time,” said Fritz Wilson, Florida’s Disaster Relief Director. “We thought we would be the one pummeled by the storm. But now the storm is headed to Texas with a vengeance.”
Wilson reported that while in the Gulf of Mexico, Ike had grown to a massive storm with tropical force winds extending almost 500 miles from Brownsville, Texas, to Grand Isle, La. Landfall is expected to be in the Houston/Galveston area on Saturday although the storm surge and other effects are already being felt through the Texas-Louisiana coast.
Only a handful of Florida’s disaster relief crews responded in Louisiana after Hurricane Gustav hit the state “because of the potential threat we had here” as hurricanes Hanna and Ike formed in the Caribbean, Wilson explained.
On Saturday, two Florida Baptist mobile kitchens, two shower units, a communications unit, a 48-foot support trailer and nearly 40 front-line volunteers will begin their 900-plus miles four-day trek across I-10. The convoy will travel from Lake Yale Conference Center in Leesburg, where the largest feeding unit is maintained, to Pensacola, then onto Hammond, La., Sunday and to Texas on Monday.
The Florida Baptist team will be in the “first wave” of Southern Baptist Convention disaster relief teams assigned by the North American Mission Board to arrive immediately on the scene after the hurricane hits.
“We will be in the strike zone, although we do not know our exact location yet,” Wilson said. “We will know and be moved into position as soon as it is safe.”
Traveling with the group is a clean-up crew and bobcat prepared to clear trees and brush from the roads for the convoy to travel and set up in their assigned area.
Once in place, the two Florida Baptist kitchens can produce 35,000 hot meals a day.
Feeding unit volunteers will be rotated in and out of Texas throughout next week.
“We are eager to serve Texas Baptists in this crisis,” said Wilson. “They were tremendous help to us when the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005 devastated our state, responding in the state for nearly six months.”
Now that Ike is no longer threatening the state, additional Florida Baptist clean-up and recovery teams are being dispatched to Golden Meadows, La., to help the community recover from Hurricane Gustav.
The volunteers will be stationed at First Baptist Church there and will perform chainsaw, mud-out and temporary roofing duties.
The town is still without electrical power, which is not expected to resume for several weeks. Florida Baptists will send a generator to power the church and other convention equipment as needed. This will include shower trailers, roofing materials, compressors and mud-out trailer.
Wilson said now is the time for action.
"We are Florida Baptists working 'Shoulder to Shoulder' to bring help, healing and hope to people in times of disaster," Wilson said. "We want the world see the love of Christ in our hearts lived out through our actions and not just our word."
Financial contributions to Florida Baptists’ disaster relief efforts may be sent to the Florida Baptist Convention, Business Services, P.O. Box 5579, Jacksonville, FL 32247. Checks should be made payable to the Florida Baptist Convention and designated for disaster relief. Donations through credit cards can be made by going to www.flbaptist.org.