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

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

Gatlinburg Fire Update

161212gatlinburgI want to thank everyone for their prayers, giving, patience and willingness to serve those affected by the fires.  I also want to thank those groups who went and assisted after the tornados struck different parts of the state.  That did not get as much press because of the situation in Gatlinburg, but I am very grateful for the teams that responded.

The area around Gatlinburg was kept mostly closed off to the public until last Friday.  For more than the first week, first responders were the only ones let in and after that only home and business owners.  Lest you think your Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief personnel have not been doing anything during this time, here is a brief update on what has been happening… Continue reading

Hurricane Matthew Response Update

Image: NOAA.gov

Image: NOAA.gov

There is a reason why we try and teach fluidity in the Introduction to Disaster Relief class and this week has been an example of that!

At this writing, Hurricane Matthew is still pouring rain on the states of South and North Carolina. It was slower in arriving in Florida and moving up the coast than originally thought. Then when it hit, it stayed offshore as it moved up the coast. As a result, they are discovering that the damage in Florida was not as great as thought. Originally they had asked 9 kitchen units to prepare to respond and TN was one of these kitchens. After almost a week of planning and preparation, we received word late yesterday that we would not be needed for response in Florida but, they wanted to keep us on standby to possibly respond in one of the other affected states. Continue reading

DR Teams Sent to Florida; Others Will Be Needed in Hurricane’s Aftermath

Baptist and Reflector

Photo: NOAA.gov

Photo: NOAA.gov

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. Continue reading

‘A Lot Of Humanity Is Suffering’ — DR Volunteer

By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector

Kay Thompson of Hermitage Hills Baptist Church, Hermitage, in metropolitan Nashville, prepares to do some laundry in the shower/laundry unit of the church in Gonzalez, La. Thompson is part of the Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief effort to help flood victims in Louisiana.

Kay Thompson of Hermitage Hills Baptist Church, Hermitage, in metropolitan Nashville, prepares to do some laundry in the shower/laundry unit of the church in Gonzalez, La. Thompson is part of the Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief effort to help flood victims in Louisiana.

MOUNT JULIET — “A lot of humanity is suffering because so many people are without their homes,” said Don Kohanski, disaster relief director of Hermitage Hills Baptist Church, Hermitage, who has served recently in Gonzalez, La., leading a shower/laundry operation.

“What we are doing is being backup for the teams who are really doing the work and helping the public. … We’re trying to help the people, giving them some kind of relief.”

The shower/laundry unit and its volunteers are set up at First Baptist Church, Gonzalez. The unit began serving Aug. 19.

Kohanski described seeing neighborhoods of houses in Gonzalez with almost everything that was in the house pulled out and placed on the street including insulation and drywall. He could see water lines on houses showing how high the water had been. Though most of the flood waters are down, he heard of residents who still had water, up to four feet, in their houses. Gonzalez is located about 25 miles southeast of Baton Rouge. Continue reading

Tennessee Baptists Prepare To Help In Louisiana

Photo: NOAA.gov

Photo: NOAA.gov

Slow-moving storms are causing record flooding and significant damage as they move across South Louisiana. Thousands of residents have evacuated, at least three people have died and there is significant property damage and loss to more than 50,000 homes. At least three interstates are closed by the flooding of the Amite River and much of Louisiana State University’s campus is covered by water.

The rising water is the result of more than 27 inches of rainfall over a 36-hour period near the city of Baker, just northeast of Baton Rouge. Continue reading

FORMER TBC STAFFER MIKE OVERCASH DIES

By Lonnie Wilkey, Editor
Baptist and Reflector

Mike Overcash

Mike Overcash

BRENTWOOD – Retired Tennessee Baptist Convention staff member and long-time disaster relief volunteer Mike Overcash died June 8 following an apparent heart attack.

Overcash, 80, a former employee of LifeWay Christian Resources who served several Tennessee Baptist churches as minister of music, was on the staff of the TBC from 1995-2001 as computer services specialist and as interim director of Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief in 2015. Continue reading