Baptist and Reflector
BRENTWOOD — Tennessee Baptists have been asked to respond in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.
Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti on Oct. 4, causing massive destruction before hitting Cuba later that night. The damage in Cuba was not as extensive as first expected but some areas were hard hit.
In Haiti, at least 478 deaths have been attributed to the massive storm and the number is expected to rise.
Downgraded to Hurricane 3 status, Matthew hit Florida on the morning of Oct. 7 and expected to move along the East Coast and will impact Georgia and South Carolina. All three states have called for evacuation of residents in the immediate area of the storm.
Wes Jones, TBC disaster relief specialist, participated in a conference call with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief officials at the North American Mission Board in Alpharetta, Ga., on Oct. 6 to further discuss possible relief efforts after the hurricane makes landfall in the U.S.
Jones said the feeding unit of Sullivan Baptist Association, based in Kingsport, will be sent to Florida along with a shower/trailer unit from Holston Baptist Association, a chainsaw recovery unit (from possibly Sullivan and Holston Valley Associations), assessors, and chaplains. As of Friday morning, Oct. 7, a site had not yet been determined, Jones reported.
In addition, another feeding unit is on standby to an undetermined site in either Georgia or the Carolinas as needs are assessed there after Hurricane Matthews moves further up the coast or out to sea, Jones said.
In relation to Haiti and Cuba, Baptist Global Response issued the following statement:
“BGR has been monitoring situations in each country and has decided to focus its response efforts in Cuba. We already have people on the ground who have received disaster relief training, and we have an established network of Cuban partners and churches that can help distribute aid efficiently. Conversely, Jamaica hasn’t suffered much damage and isn’t a priority for disaster response work. While the storm did affect Haiti, a number of other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are well established there as a result of the 2010 earthquake. They are already starting relief work. BGR will operate some small projects in Haiti with local personnel, but the country won’t be our main focus due to the prevalence of other NGOs.”
According to its website, BGR is not an official Southern Baptist Convention entity but it “undergirds the work of Southern Baptists worldwide and partners with others who are like-minded.”
Tennessee Baptist volunteers have responded to a number of disaster relief needs this year that have put a strain on the DR budget, Jones reported.
Tennessee Baptists interested in donating to hurricane relief can respond online at tndisasterrelief.org to 2016 Hurricane Matthew or by check made payable to the Tennessee Baptist Convention and mailed to Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief, P.O. Box 728, Brentwood, TN 37024.