As Floridians continued to grapple with the magnitude of Hurricane Ian’s devastating blow to the state, South Carolina and Georgia coastal residents braced for the storm’s final strike Friday afternoon.
“It looks like Charleston will miss the worst of the storm but now our concern is Myrtle Beach,” said Susan Peugh, disaster relief director for the South Carolina Baptist Convention. “Landfall will coincide with high tide which will make the storm surge even worse.”
Weather officials said the South Carolina coast could see storm surge of 4-7 feet and considerable rainfall from the event.
“We are already receiving reports of downed trees,” Peugh said. “Because this will affect the entire state, we have put all of our units on standby.”
In Florida, media outlets used words like “staggering” and “overwhelming” to describe the intensity and vastness of the destruction Hurricane Ian left in its wake.
In a media briefing Thursday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state had never seen a flood event of this magnitude. Describing damage to Sanibel Island, DeSantis told reporters, “it got hit with really biblical storm surge.”
The web site poweroutage.us indicated 1.9 million Floridians without electricity Friday morning, with thousands of linemen deploying up and down the coast and throughout the state in an effort to restore power.
Setting up for the weekend
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers coming from out of state made their way to Florida Friday with many expected to arrive and set up over the weekend.
Florida SBDR leaders and volunteers, who have staged people and equipment in Leesburg, are ready to move into hard hit areas as soon as officials complete search and rescue efforts.
A Send Relief truck loaded with supplies including bottled water, tarping for rooftops, and Shockwave treatment to disinfect and kill mold in flooded homes, left for Florida Friday morning.
Send Relief, the Southern Baptist compassion ministry which is a cooperative effort between the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board, will send more supplies as needed throughout the response.
Send Relief’s ministry center in Valdosta, Ga., is housing volunteers making their way to the state as well as a few pastor families who were forced to leave their homes in Florida.
“The Red Cross has told us they expect a need for at least 4.2 million meals,” said Coy Webb, Send Relief’s crisis response director.
“Southern Baptists have established locations for seven kitchens,” he said, “and the potential for three more, bringing our daily meal capacity to 170,000 if that much is needed.”
Webb, who led disaster relief efforts for the Kentucky Baptist Convention for 15 years, said kitchen sites are expected to be active by Monday evening and will continue as long as needed.
Recovery teams that can place tarps on rooftops, remove debris from yards and cut down storm-damaged trees, will move in shortly after that. Mud-out teams will also be needed and that activity will begin as soon as homes can be assessed and jobs coordinated with local officials.
“We have some great volunteers and a great network,” Webb said. “Many of them will be needed for this response.”
Ways to give
Check with your church, association or state Baptist convention to find out how they are contributing to ongoing relief efforts. To contact your state convention for more information, click here. Or, for more information about Send Relief, click here.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Mike Ebert and originally published by the North American Mission Board.