Harvey response begins amid widespread damage

Baptist Press

A Texas Baptist Men mobile kitchen team moved with Texas task force operations from city to city, serving breakfast as they conducted rescue operations. This photo shows the team serving breakfast at 5:30 in the morning just before they packed up and traveled to Rosenburg at 8:55.
-Photo courtesy of TBM’s Facebook page

HOUSTON (BP) — As of Monday morning, news outlets reported that Hurricane Harvey had already dropped 11 trillion gallons of rain over south Texas. More than 300,000 customers were without power. Officials have declared 62 counties disaster areas as the initial destruction caused by 132 mph wind gusts has been showered with unprecedented levels of rainfall.

In the immediate aftermath of the storm, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) expected some of the hardest-hit regions to be accessible only to search and rescue teams.

Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief (SBTC DR) teams reported they were still in a holding pattern as flooding closed numerous roads. Many of the rivers had not yet crested to their expected flood levels. As that happens, the number of road closings is expected to go up, making it even more difficult to send recovery units. Continue reading

Update on Hurricane Harvey

Image: NOAA

Update on Hurricane Harvey and what we are being asked to do at this point. I shared this information with all team leaders, secretaries and Directors of Missions earlier this afternoon. Please be in prayer for those in the storm’s path and those preparing to respond. Please let your team leader know if you are available for possible deployment.

I know that many of you have been monitoring Hurricane Harvey which is expected to make landfall later today in Texas and then possibly sit there for a while before going back into the Gulf and then hitting Louisiana. Pray for those in the path of the storm and that its impact will not be as bad as they think.

We have been asked to place many of our units on alert and standby. The following is part of an email that I received from the North American Mission Board… Continue reading

Tennessee DR Teams Placed on Alert, Standby

Baptist and Reflector

Image: NOAA

MOUNT JULIET — Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief is monitoring Hurricane Harvey closely.

The Tennessee Baptist DR feeding unit was placed on alert Aug. 25 while response/recovery units have been put on standby, said Wes Jones, disaster relief specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.

Alert status means there’s a good likelihood the feeding unit will be called out quickly while it’s more of a “wait and see” scenario for the response/recovery units, Jones said. Continue reading

Dr ‘Tree Climber’ James Brown Recognized

By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector

James Brown

KNOXVILLE — He’s known as the “Tennessee Squirrel” or the tree climber among Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers. Children seeing him swinging around in a tree with ropes have called him Spiderman.

He is James Brown, a Tennessee Baptist disaster relief volunteer. Brown not only climbs and swings from ropes in trees, he manhandles a chain saw. The trees have been damaged by storms or fires and need repair or removal. Many times the trees are reached by volunteers working from bucket trucks, but sometimes the trucks can’t be used. Continue reading

Jones Surveys Damage

Wes Jones, disaster relief specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, recently surveyed the storm damage at the home of Will and Kristi Johnson in Brentwood. Though a massive response was not needed, a team from Cumberland Baptist Association, based in Clarksville, traveled to Brentwood to cut the downed trees and clear debris from the home.  Jones said Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief units are gearing up in order to respond if needed as storms move across the state this spring. Jones encourages Tennessee Baptists to let the TBDR office know of areas where volunteers can be used. Call Jones at 615-371-7927 or Elizabeth Holmes at 615-371-7926.

— Photo by Royce DeGrie

Mattresses Sent To LA. Flood Victims

From Baptist and Reflector

MORRISTOWN — Nolachucky Baptist Association disaster relief, based here, with help from Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief, is delivering four tractor trailer loads or about 236 sets of mattresses and box springs to Louisiana flood victims, reported Don Owen, director of disaster relief.

Owen learned of the need at the end of November from a ministry partner and Louisiana Baptist, Johnny Huffman of Covington, La. Huffman knew that Nolachucky Association had sent mattresses to Israel through the Harvest of Israel project of the association and First Baptist Church, Morristown. Continue reading

Tennessee Baptist Assistance Continues

From Baptist and Reflector

TBC President Steve Freeman surveys the damage to property immediately behind Roaring Fork Baptist Church. Several homes near the church were destroyed, four of which belonged to church members. Freeman has called on Tennessee Baptists to give $20 for tragedy to help in the disaster relief effort. Contributions can be made at TNDisasterRelief.org/contributions.

TBC President Steve Freeman surveys the damage to property immediately behind Roaring Fork Baptist Church. Several homes near the church were destroyed, four of which belonged to church members. Freeman has called on Tennessee Baptists to give $20 for tragedy to help in the disaster relief effort. Contributions can be made at TNDisasterRelief.org/contributions. -Photo by Chris Turner

GATLINBURG — Tennessee Baptist Mission Board (TBMB) leaders are grateful for the quick response, both financially and with physical assistance, following the wildfires which struck the Smoky Mountains in late November.

What’s more, help will continue in the months to come, leaders agreed.

“I am thankful for the quick response of our disaster relief volunteers at the very start of this tragedy in Sevier County to meet the immediate needs of first responders and evacuees,” said Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the TBMB. Continue reading

East Tennessee Fires

gatlinburg-pigeon-forge-mapAs many of you have heard by now, fires are ravaging parts of East TN.  Especially hard hit areas are Pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg.  Gatlinburg was evacuated and parts have burned.

Kaye Thomas, one our Disaster Relief leaders, contacted the mayor of Sevierville and he requested that we start feeding this morning.  They worked through the night with the help and support of the folks at First Baptist Church, Sevierville to be up and feeding 1,500 this morning.  They are preparing the food at the church and Red Cross is delivering it to the shelters.  We have some initial people going over this morning to see other ways we might help.  Kaye is working with FBC Sevierville to set up their laundry unit there at the church. Continue reading

Gatlinburg Fires – Preliminary Information

gatlinburg-mapAll units are asked to be on ALERT for possible response to the East TN area as a result of the fires that are going on all over the mountains. Please pray for those evacuating and all those responding to fight the fires. Pray especially that the rains now leaving Middle TN will make it to East TN and sit on the mountains for a while and push back these fires.

Georgia DR Efforts Winding Down

Baptist and Reflector

SAVANNAH, Ga. — Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief operations at Southside Baptist Church in Savannah are winding down, said Wes Jones, disaster relief specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

The feeding unit of Sullivan Baptist Association, based in Kingsport, was sent to Savannah last week in response to Hurricane Matthew. A shower trailer unit from Holston Baptist Association, based in Johnson City, along with chain saw teams from both associations; Cumberland Baptist Association, based in Clarksville; and Knox County Baptist Association, based in Knoxville, have been on site. Continue reading