Four volunteers from Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief (IBDR) joined a team manning a feeding center in Colorado where wildfires just before New Year’s wiped out several communities in Boulder County. More than 1,000 homes were destroyed and tens of thousands were forced to evacuate. A semi-trailer mobile kitchen and a support unit were set up immediately and reported serving 250 meals a day at the onset.
While snowfall helped extinguish the fires, the weather has hindered the ability of many people to deal with their losses. “Much of the work may not be able to begin until the spring or summer, as typical Colorado winter weather will prohibit this type of work,” said Coy Webb, Send Relief Crisis Response director for the North American Mission Board. Webb expects the weather to contribute to the response’s longevity.
“We also anticipate requests from church planting/church leaders for ministry grants to provide relief and recovery help in the affected areas,” Webb said.
Illinois team leader Randy McClellan is serving with trained IBDR volunteers Kathy Dudly, Maryland Vaughn, and Pamela Leslie, along with two volunteers from Ohio through the end of January, according to IBDR state director Butch Porter. They will provide relief for volunteers who have been on site for about three weeks.
Among the Colorado volunteers, Dale and Linda Hinkle, have served in the feeding unit. They lost their Louisville, Colorado home of 30 years, barely having enough time to escape with a few items out of the house.
“All I have right now is my faith in God, family and friends,” she said. “But as tragic as it is, it makes you realize what’s important. All of these possessions that we cling to…you can’t take them with you anyway. You realize how many people care about you [from the] love of our church, our friends, and our family.”
With 900 trained volunteers, Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief is a ministry of the Illinois Baptist State Association, with its member churches and teams from local Baptist associations. Send Relief, operated by the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board, is the third largest disaster relief ministry in the nation.
–Illinois Baptist staff with additional reporting from Baptist Press