Hurricane Matthew Updates

Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Update – October 12, 2016

Miss. volunteers ready to deploy

By William H. Perkins Jr.

Editor, The Baptist Record

Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief teams are prepared for the call to mobilization in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew’s rake of the U.S. East Coast last week, according to Don Gann, disaster relief coordinator and director of men’s ministry for the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board in Jackson.

“We were on standby to take the mass feeding unit to Florida, but the damage there was not as great as they anticipated so the Florida Baptist Convention Disaster Relief organization said they could handle the response themselves,” Gann said.

Mississippi Baptist’s largest mass feeding unit is a specially-outfitted 18-wheeler that is fully self-contained and capable of supplying 20,000 meals per day for disaster victims and first responders. It is stationed at Central Hills Retreat near West when not on active duty.

“Hurricane Matthew struck states that have some of the most capable Baptist disaster relief organizations in the system. Georgia Baptists are handling their state’s needs. South Carolina Baptists are staffing three feeding sites.

“North Carolina Baptist Disaster relief is a strong unit. They were on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for an extended period of time, helping us after Hurricane Katrina in 2005,” Gann said.

Gann pointed out that Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief is a component of the Southern Baptist Convention-wide system coordinated by a special office at the North American Mission Board in suburban Atlanta.

“We don’t self-deploy,” he said. We’re part of a very effective system that can position disaster relief units from all around the Southern Baptist Convention in the places where they are most needed after a disaster.”

That coordination keeps disaster relief volunteers and equipment from unnecessarily bunching up in places where needs are not as great in the first few days and weeks after a disaster, Gann said.

“Many disaster responses go on for months and even years. Workers are needed all during that time and coordination helps make the overall, long-term response more effective.”

Meanwhile, Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief is partnering with Louisiana Baptists to continue the long-term response to the historic August floods in that neighboring state, Gann said.

“This is the second major flood response this year for Louisiana Baptists, and we have made a commitment to help them however we can in their recovery.”

Also, local Mississippi Baptists in the Wilkinson County area of Mississippi Association, just across the state line from Louisiana, have geared up for long-term recovery work made necessary by August flooding in their area.

The Wilkinson County Community-Based Recovery Committee has been formed, and chairwoman Liz McGraw, a member of Woodville Church in Woodville, has issued an appeal for assistance.

“Your church can help by committing to bring meals or groceries to be used in preparing meals. Please call Bart Houston, pastor of Crosby Church, at (601) 384-7969 to schedule a meal.

“If your congregation would like to send a crew of volunteers, please call the Committee’s volunteer coordinator Aimee Chiovaro at (601) 660-0925. To donate building supplies, please contact the Committee’s construction coordinator Steve Hayes at (225) 235–7807.

‘Another way to help is through monetary donations. Enloe Kee of Woodville Church is serving as treasurer. His ministry, PBM Ministries, Inc., is the designated 501(c)(3) charity to which you can send tax-deductible gifts. Donations may be sent to P.O. Box 874, Woodville, MS 39669.

“Please know that 100% of the donations will go directly toward recovery efforts. The Committee is composed of volunteers. No one is receiving income.”

For more information on any of these disaster responses, contact Gann at P.O. Box 530, Jackson, MS 39205-0530. Telephone: (601) 292-3335 or toll-free outside Jackson (800) 748-1651;335. E-mail: dgann@mbcb.org. Web site: mbcb.org.

The Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Task Force is funded by gifts to the Mississippi Cooperative Program, the Margaret Lackey Offering for State Missions, and post-disaster donations.