Posted on : Thursday August 31, 2017

By U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Zachary West [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

HOUSTON–Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm that has caused catastrophic floods and damage along the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana, is the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since 2005. In what FEMA director Brock Long called “the worst disaster” in Texan history, recovery is expected to take many years.

In particular, the area around Houston, Texas, has been hit hard by the devastation. Torrential rain has led to massive flooding with 55 inches of water expected by Wednesday.

Many have said that the flooding and damage will far exceed that of Hurricane Katrina because of the sheer amount of space affected by the storm.

Even before the hurricane hit landfall Southern Baptists across the country were making preparations to provide relief. Leading the effort is the North American Mission Board’s Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) which, along with the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army, is one of the three largest mobilizers of trained disaster relief volunteers in the United States.

The SBDR has chapters across the United States with approximately 70,000 trained volunteers and 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, childcare, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild, and power generation. As NAMB vice president of Send Relief David Melber says, “Every national disaster is an opportunity to step up and be Christ’s love in action.”

HOWEVER, PLEASE NOTE: AT THIS TIME, BECAUSE OF CONTINUED RAIN AND UNSAFE CONDITIONS, no Southern Baptist Disaster Relief team is able to deploy to Texas. Presently, only military and select first responders, as needed, have been allowed access to the area.

The emergency management teams from Texas and Louisiana are asking those who want to help to be patient until conditions improve. Due to the amount of damage that Hurricane Harvey has caused, deployments will be long-term rather than immediate. Volunteers may not be permitted until mid-September.

Update (August 30, 4:30 p.m.): State Disaster Relief directors were advised that volunteers and units may be deployed, by request, starting next week, but it is fluid due to the amount of flooding and damage that is preventing access to the area. Currently, the Disaster Relief teams from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, Texas Baptist Men, and the North American Mission Board are only focused on Search and Recovery Tier 1 Emergency services. Until further notice, they are asking people to hold off all donations of items, because they still are unable to logistically handle them. FEMA has delivered tractor trailer loads full of water, so there is no need for fresh water donations at this time. Basically, until the water recedes, the best way to respond is to send Walmart gift cards or financial donations (accepted through the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware or directly to the Texas Baptist Men who is actively involved in the situation.

Update (August 31, 5 p.m.): In addition to financial donations, the BCM/D has set up three collection centers for material donations, which will be delivered to Fredonia Hill Baptist Church in Nacogdoches, Texas, a partner SBC church who now is regularly bringing supplies into the areas devastated by the storm.

Beginning Sept. 9, the following items can be donated on Wednesdays and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at these three collection sites:

— Skycroft Conference Center, 9621 Frostown Rd, Middletown, MD 21769

— Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, 35 Sylmar Road, Rising Sun, MD 21911

— Baptist Mission Resource Center, 10255 Old Columbia Rd, Columbia, MD 21046

Here are some items your family can bring:

  • Adult diapers
  • Baby wipes
  • Children’s diapers
  • Dog and cat food
  • Female products
  • First aid items
  • Gatorade
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Large trash bags
  • Paper towels
  • Peanut butter & jelly
  • Sandwich baggies
  • Sleeping bags
  • Snacks (individually wrapped)
  • Thin bed mats
  • Toilet paper
  • Toiletries
  • Water (gallons/bottles)

Want to show your congregation how to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey? The Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware offers a downloadable two-sided bulletin insert in both color and black/white for your use on Sunday. Click here for this resource.

In addition, consider these four ways you can help now:

#1: Pray

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is calling all Christians to pray for our neighbors suffering from the ravages of this disaster. As Frank S. Page, SBC Executive Committee president and CEO, said in a statement, “Our prayers go out to the people of Texas in the massive flooding and damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. Our Baptist disaster relief units will be the first on the scene to minister in a variety of ways. I call on Southern Baptists to pray and be ready to assist through giving and going. God bless Texas.”

#2: Give

Donations to Disaster Relief will help equip volunteers to operate units and provide hot showers, fresh laundry, and nutritious meals. Southern Baptist chaplains will also be in the area to provide spiritual counseling.

You can give directly through the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware website,, or mail checks to BCM/D, 10255 Old Columbia Road, Columbia, MD 21046. Please designate checks for “Disaster Relief: Hurricane Harvey.”

Donate to help victims of Hurricane Harvey

#3: Sponsor a Crisis Response Bucket

You have two options:

You can donate funds toward NAMB’s Send Relief Crisis Response Buckets, which contain necessities to equip families impacted by disasters. Each bucket contains heavy duty cleaning supplies, protection, and tools for addressing the physical impact on a property resulting from water or wind damage. The easily distributable and durable buckets serve a second purpose as a storage vehicle for valuables. Each bucket costs approximately $50, so any amount you can provide is helpful. Click here to see the list.

Or you can gather materials for health/hygiene kits to be distributed as needed. Include in a two gallon zip-lock bag (whatever size the items will fit into is fine) or a 14 x 12 drawstring, cloth bag, the following items: A large bath towel, large comb (no rat tail combs), wash cloth, shampoo (full size), toothbrush (adult), soap (full size bar), toothpaste (large) and deodorant. Health Kit Supplies can be brought to the Baptist Resource Mission Center.

#4: Prepare

You and your church can begin preparing today to help provide the help that will be needed. If you have ever served in the past as a disaster relief volunteer, it is important that we have your correct contact information in our Disaster Relief database (

In addition, the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware will hold a Clinical Incident Stress Management (CISM): Assisting Individuals in Crisis training to be led by Dr. Naomi K. Paget, Chaplain and Crisis Interventionist, on Friday, September 15 and Saturday, September 16, 2017 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day.

It will be held at: South Columbia Baptist Church, 8814 Guilford Road, Columbia, MD 21046.

Register for Clinical Incident Stress Management training

There will be other trainings for volunteers who need to update their credentials. In preparation, please contact Niki Taylor to ensure that your background check is up to date.

For more information, please contact:
Niki Taylor, (800) 466-5290, ext. 226,

Article adapted from Joe Conway/NAMB. Photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons