Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers continued to position themselves to respond swiftly as millions of Florida residents were without power on Thursday (Sept. 29) amid catastrophic damage left in the wake of Hurricane Ian.
At least a dozen deaths have been reported after the storm reportedly made landfall along the Southwest coast of Florida on Wednesday at speeds of 150 miles per hour, just shy of a Category 5 Hurricane. The storm is expected to continue climbing up the East Coast on Friday.
On Thursday, Send Relief — the compassion ministry of the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board — loaded a semi-truck filled with bottled water, temporary roofing and various emergency supplies to send to Florida.
Send Relief also deployed a rescue boat to the Fort Myers area to be used in rescue efforts by the Swift Water Flood Search and Rescue Team. A team of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers from North Carolina and Tennessee will be working in coordination with the Florida Emergency Operations Center.
“Pray for this team as they aid in search & rescue efforts,” Send Relief tweeted on Thursday.
More on the way
In addition to Disaster Relief volunteers from Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee, teams from Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas have been arriving in the state to prepare for ongoing relief efforts. Other states that are on stand-by include Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri and South Carolina.
Once the storm passes, these teams will begin emergency food distributions, flood recovery, temporary roofing and chainsaw projects to minister to those impacted by the storm.
While kitchen and response site locations have not been determined, set-up is expected to begin on Sunday (Oct. 2) and the first meals should be served on Monday. At least 100,000 meals are expected to be served each day, depending on how many more mobile kitchens are deployed.
Relief efforts are expected to last for months to come.
In addition, Southern Baptists continue relief efforts in Puerto Rico where widespread flooding and power outages followed Hurricane Fiona, which battered the island Sep. 18.
Send Relief launched six response sites through local churches across the island, some of them Send Network churches that were recently planted.
Ways to give
Check with your church, association or state Baptist convention to find out how they are contributing to relief work in Florida and beyond.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was compiled by The Baptist Paper, with reporting from the Florida Baptist Convention and North American Mission Board.