Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief (IBDR) volunteers paused their Hurricane Ida recovery work in Mandeville, La. when heavy rains from Hurricane Nicholas began falling. Weather forecasters called for some areas on the Gulf Coast to receive as much as 20 inches of rain from the hurricane which weakened to a tropical storm after making landfall September 13.
Volunteers were sent home in anticipation of flooding and will be asked to return when conditions improve. IBDR State Director Butch Porter described some of the yards in the Mandeville area where teams were already working as “soupy.” He said volunteers didn’t want to start jobs “where there’s no guarantee they could get back to. It would leave a bad taste in people’s mouths if we couldn’t finish what we started doing.”
Porter said multiple IBDR teams have already been given assignments for when and where to go when they return to Louisiana. A small group of Illinois volunteers, including a damage assessor, chose to remain in Mandeville to continue working.
Through September 15, IBDR had 262 volunteer days, 1,877 work hours, and 61 assessments. Chainsaw crews tallied 38 jobs and 88 heavy equipment hours were logged. Over 320 showers were taken, and 91 loads of laundry were washed in the shower/laundry trailer. Most importantly, IBDR served and ministered to the 385 people they had contact with, making 26 gospel presentations and distributing 40 Bibles.
At the start of the relief efforts, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) asked Illinois to partner with Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief on a cross-state partnership to get relief out more quickly. Illinois and Missouri teams worked out of First Baptist Church in Mandeville to prepare and serve hot meals. They were joined by volunteers from the church and Kansas-Nebraska Baptist Disaster Relief. As of September 15, the combined volunteers prepared 18,270 meals and had a hand in serving 14,617 meals. IBDR also sent two shipments of food and other supplies in addition to what the American Red Cross provided.
Illinois Disaster Relief is one of 13 Baptist state conventions serving Hurricane Ida survivors in Louisiana. There have been 23 active SBDR sites in Louisiana with over 1,000 Southern Baptists responding to needs.
In early September, IBDR was asked to support Afghan refugees by delivering diapers and other personnel hygiene supplies to O’Hare Airport in Chicago. Porter called the situation “very fluid” and said he is waiting to hear what other short-term needs IBDR might be able to assist with in the near future.
Meanwhile, IBDR volunteers have wrapped up flood recovery work in the Bloomington and Gibson City, Illinois areas.