Posted on : Monday August 29, 2011

By Shannon Baker

SALISBURY, Md.—While assessment of damage done by Hurricane Irene is underway in Maryland/Delaware, volunteers from Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware’s Disaster Relief units and churches have already been at work.

Kim Delamarter, from Bayside Baptist Church, Chesapeake Beach, Md., led the Disaster Relief feeding unit in Salisbury, Md., where the American Red Cross staged an emergency shelter in the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center Friday through Sunday.

She estimates that the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware disaster relief feeding unit served 4,000 meals during the height of Hurricane Irene, including meals for approximately 1,000 shelter guests, another 500 first responders and nearby zoo workers as well as food for four other shelters in the region.

“We actually cooked in the Civic Center’s kitchen because the wind was blowing so hard on our [disaster relief] trailers,” she said.

Like many other volunteers, Delamarter left her own home in the path of the hurricane so that she can serve in the unit.

“We drove into the storm as others were driving away from it,” she said. “I think that is what we are supposed to do… help others when they need it.”

Delamarter eventually made it back to her home, which except for a power outage (estimated to last for four or five more days) and a few downed limbs was protected from the storm.

Bruce Glisson, church administrator and pastor of outreach at nearby Allen Memorial Baptist Church, brought his family to serve at the Civic Center. Though most of his time was spent unloading and organizing food from the food truck, he was able to talk with many of the residents who took shelter.

“The biggest thing that I took away from the experience was how appreciative everyone was,” he said, noting that many of those who evacuated expressed concern about losing their homes in the strong winds and rain. “They were so thankful,” he said.

Kerry Hinton, the Disaster Relief Coordinator for the Eastern Baptist Association, helped with the setup of the feeding unit on Friday, before being deployed to responsibilities assigned through the National Guard.

“I am very grateful for all the volunteers and their families who came out in the pouring rain to serve others,” he said.

Hinton also is assessing recovery needs on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, but so far, he’s concluded, “We are very blessed here.”

He has heard of only minor damage in the area with no major problems reported in Somerset, Wicomico and Worchester Counties.

Richard Logsdon, director of missions for the Potomac Baptist Association, and Mike Hayden, lead assessor for Maryland/Delaware’s Disaster Relief, presently are assessing damage in Southern Maryland. Most of the initial damage they’ve seen is due to downed trees and flooding.

Likewise, Jim McBride, the disaster relief coordinator for Delaware, is sizing up the situation.

He shared that an apparent tornado touched down in Lewes, a beachfront town in the northeastern part of Delaware, on Saturday night. There was no report of injuries, but nearly 15 to 17 homes were damaged, according to

Other than that, some of the more agricultural areas received some flooding, but “overall, it seems that we dodged a major bullet, in relationship to what Philadelphia and New Jersey experienced, “ McBride said.

Assessment will help determine whether the Maryland/Delaware Disaster Relief recovery unit can handle the cleanup themselves or rely on help from the Michigan unit, which is poised to assist as needed.

The two tractor trailers full of food for the American Red Cross also is being held until determination is made whether that food needs to be available for Maryland/Delaware residents who are experiencing power outages or be sent to residents in northern states who may have a greater need, said Ellen Udovich, who oversees ministry evangelism efforts for the BCM/D.

“At one point on Sunday, it was estimated that 800,000 people in Maryland and 55,000 people in Delaware were without electricity,” she said. She has been in constant communication with the North American Mission Board Disaster Relief Operations Center and with other state Disaster Relief directors as well as the local emergency response community.

While focusing on the next phase of relief—cleanup and recovery—she urges Maryland/Delaware Baptist churches to help their neighbors.

Volunteers are calling churches to ascertain needs and seek prayer requests, but with widespread power outages, many may not be able to connect. Anyone who knows of immediate needs may contact the BCM/D at (410) 590-5290, extension 900, and a Disaster Relief coordinator will return the call to determine how to assist them.

Concerning all the responses, BCM/D’s Executive Director David Lee shared, “Times like these affirm for us the value of our Southern Baptist family. We have heard from so many of you assuring us of your prayers and willingness to help.”

He noted, “We are still assessing Irene’s damage to our multi-state region. BCMD Disaster Relief teams are already deployed. More will most likely be needed. Pray for those who are hurting. Pray for those assessing losses. Pray for the safety of those seeking to help others. Pray for those who are without hope in Christ. Pray for all who seek to love and help in Jesus’ name.”

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