Posted on : Thursday September 2, 2021

Editor’s Note – Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) Community Engagement Consultant Ellen Udovich said that in light of flooding and wind damage caused by remnants of Hurricane Ida, Maryland/Delaware Disaster Relief would focus its efforts on assisting survivors in our immediate area as well as in our partner northeastern states before planning deployments to the Gulf Coast. 

Udovich urges volunteers to be patient regarding New Orleans and other hard-hit areas. Although Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) teams from nearby southern states are currently setting up operating bases around New Orleans, the logistical challenges are significant. “We are getting updates daily from our SBDR counterparts on the ground,” she said. “So much of the infrastructure is broken, and so many vendors – even our usual national vendors –are unable to provide goods and services, so the teams coming in first are having to bring in their own water tankers and diesel fuel,” she said. “Nationally, SBDR is anticipating months of emergency response teams doing construction and rebuilding. There will be plenty of work to go around, but it won’t all get done in the next two weeks.”

Meanwhile, she urges people to pray and to give as they are able. “Funds can turn into whatever is needed most,” she said. You can give through the BCM/D Give portal. Scroll down to “Disaster Relief Ministry,” and if you choose, you may designate your offering to Haiti, Afghanistan, or Hurricane Ida. 

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) – Sixteen years to the day after Katrina’s historic landfall, Hurricane Ida arrived in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, around noon on Sunday, Aug. 29, as a Category 4 storm. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) teams will start assessing damage and preparing their response today.

With 150 mph winds, Ida is one of the strongest storms to hit the mainland United States. By Monday morning, the storm finally decreased to a tropical storm and tracked across Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee, and continued its northeastern trajectory into New England.

Send Relief volunteers Mike and Dana Ellis delivered crisis response supplies so that they could be pre-staged for use by SBDR volunteers in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida (Send Relief photo).

“We hurt with the people of Louisiana and Mississippi, particularly Louisiana after they were hit so hard last year by Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Delta,” said Coy Webb, disaster response director for Send Relief. “We pray for them and know how difficult it is for them.”

SBDR and Send Relief, the compassion ministry arm for Southern Baptists, anticipated a major crisis response. SBDR volunteer teams from Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and North Carolina were on standby to serve in Louisiana. Some teams began driving and sheltered just outside of the storm’s path so they could respond more rapidly.

Louisiana SBDR teams began conducting their assessments as soon as they were able on Monday to prepare to welcome outside SBDR teams to assist with the response. Mississippi disaster relief teams anticipate working primarily in their state, at least initially, Webb said.

“We appreciate our great SBDR volunteers who are preparing to roll in and the many who have already started rolling in,” Webb said. “We are grateful for the help and healing they are always ready to provide after disaster events.”

So far, SBDR expects to set up multiple kitchens across the affected areas, each with the capacity to prepare at least 10,000 meals a day. As assessments continue, those locations are still being determined. Those needs are expected to ramp up as those who have evacuated return to assess the damage done to their homes and property as widespread power outages persist.

Send Relief delivered initial supplies – temporary rolled roofing, meals, and other supplies – on Friday, Aug. 27, ahead of the storm. An additional semi-truck was being loaded Monday from a Send Relief ministry center in Ashland, Kentucky, sending more temporary roofing, 175,000 meals, flood recovery supplies, chainsaw fuel, and generators, along with other resources.

The Send Relief truck should have reached affected areas by Wednesday, Sept. 1, dropping supplies first in Mississippi on its way south to provide support to SBDR in Louisiana.

So far, damage has not been as widespread as initially projected, but that could mean those who did get hit were hit much harder, said Sam Porter, national director of SBDR with Send Relief. With multiple teams on standby, SBDR expects to assist with the recovery for several weeks.

“Southern Baptists served for two-and-a-half months following Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Delta,” said Porter. “We were there right after it hit in August, and we did not close up shop until November. Once we get there, we will be there for the long haul.”

Stan Statham, Louisiana’s SBDR director, and Hubert Yates, SBDR director for Mississippi Baptists, requested prayer for their teams as they survey damage and plan to respond to those in need.

Those looking to support Send Relief and SBDR can give through the Send Relief website or give directly to Louisiana SBDR or Mississippi SBDR.

Brandon Elrod writes for the North American Mission Board.

Cover photo: Hurricane Ida arrived in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, around noon on Aug. 29 as a Category 4 storm. With winds of 150 mph, Ida is one of the strongest storms to hit the mainland United States (NOAA satellite image).