Baton Rouge, La. | Reality is setting in: The flooding in Louisiana was worse than many people realized, and recovery will take much longer than predicted. So, Southern Baptists nationwide are being called to join the relief effort.
The North American Mission Board is leading an effort to help Louisiana flood survivors rebuild and to assist churches and individuals who want to serve. The initiative, under NAMB’s Send Relief ministry, began Oct. 1.
“We’re developing a recovery plan to help Louisiana residents, pastors, churches, and other buildings damaged by extreme flooding,” said Mickey Caison, NAMB’s Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) executive director. “The Send Relief plan includes a facility to house 300 volunteers as they aid those in crisis. Another part of what’s in the works concerning this year-long project [is] collegiate opportunities during students’ Christmas and spring breaks to help serve and rebuild Louisiana.”
The initiative is similar to those NAMB facilitated in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, Detroit flooding, and the Colorado floods and wildfires. While mud-outs, clean-ups, and feedings are ongoing now, the one-year recovery plan will move into the rebuild stage.
So far in the response to the historic mid-August flooding in south Louisiana, SBDR team members and chaplains have made 1,345 gospel presentations and seen 171 people respond by placing their faith in Christ for salvation. SBDR teams also have prepared more than 657,000 hot meals.
“A lot of the residents are dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] from the flood,” Caison said. “They’re resilient people who want to move on with their lives, again. Many escaped the flooding in New Orleans just to have it happen to them again here. It’s heartbreaking but we’ve got Southern Baptist chaplains as well as local pastors offering up spiritual and emotional support to those suffering from PTSD.”
In August and September, Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief sent six teams of flood recovery and chaplaincy volunteers to Louisiana. Another team is serving in October with the possibility of two more in November.
Illinois Disaster Relief is accepting gifts to help mobilize Illinois volunteers and equipment. To give, send a check payable to Illinois Disaster Relief to: IBSA, P.O. Box 19247, Springfield, IL 62703. Or, donate online at www.IBSA.org. All donations are tax deductible.
Now is also a good time to join the Disaster Relief team. IBSA has over 1,600 trained volunteers who serve as part of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Disaster Relief ministry. The next training will be October 14-15 at Lake Sallateeska Baptist Camp, near Pinckneyville.
– Baptist Press, with additional reporting from Illinois Baptist staff