ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) – Nearly one month after Hurricane Ida made landfall in southeast Louisiana, Southern Baptists eclipsed the mark of 735,000 prepared warm meals served for those impacted by the storm. Needs for church-to-church partnerships in Louisiana and volunteers in the Northeast persist, however.
As feeding begins to wind down in Louisiana, most Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) sites will continue assisting homeowners into October. Some sites will remain active until the middle of the month, while at least one will continue until the end of October.
Roughly 130 churches in the state are dealing with damage of some kind, and the Louisiana Baptist Convention continues to connect congregations from across North America with those severely stormed-damaged churches through church-to-church partnerships.
While the response to the call for such partnerships has been positive with around 60 churches stepping up to the plate, organizers say they need twice that number of partnering churches since the amount of help each church can provide varies.
“Anything that a church can do to help would greatly serve those churches affected by Hurricane Ida,” said Bryant Wright, president of Send Relief. “Whether a church can send financial help, other resources or volunteer teams, any assistance would be appreciated, and it is desperately needed. Many of the churches damaged during Ida are still staring down a months-long, and even year-long, recovery process.”
Wright issued a similar call to churches on his social media. Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama State Board of Missions, was one of those who responded to the call for help. Lance engaged the Louisiana Baptist Convention so that Alabama Baptists could engage directly with churches in need.
“Alabama Baptists have a heart for disaster relief that goes back more than a half-century,” Lance said. “The devastating tornadoes that tore through our state in April 2011 made us ever more determined to help people during the aftermath of natural disasters. Dr. Bryant Wright’s call for Southern Baptists to help Louisiana after Hurricane Ida should be well received across the SBC.”
Though Ida directly hit the state of Louisiana, the remnants of the storm traveled across the United States and created a major flooding crisis upon reaching the Northeast. New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania all experienced severe flooding.
SBDR teams in the region, particularly in New York, need more trained volunteers to assist with flood recovery, tearing out damaged material in homes and applying mold remediation. Those looking to volunteer can connect directly with Michael Flannery, SBDR director for the Baptist Convention of New York.
“Anyone who is able to serve should have the opportunity in the Northeast,” said Sam Porter, national director for disaster relief with Send Relief. “The amount of damage sustained when Ida dropped several inches of rain has left many homeowners in need of help. Southern Baptists have a great opportunity to provide the help and hope of Jesus to those who endured the storm.”
Southern Baptists still have opportunities to serve Hurricane Ida survivors both in Louisiana and in the Northeast. Nearly 30 of the 41 Southern Baptist state conventions have sent SBDR volunteers to assist in the Hurricane Ida response in either Louisiana or the Northeast so far.
As of Sept. 27, Southern Baptists have served more than 18,000 days’ worth of volunteer service and assisted approximately 1,300 homeowners along with the more than 730,000 meals prepared throughout the response.
To learn more about how to get involved, visit SendRelief.org or connect through the local state conventions that have been affected by Hurricane Ida. The Louisiana Baptist Convention has a landing page for churches to help in the recovery. State conventions in the Northeast, such as in New England, New York and Pennsylvania-South Jersey, have volunteer opportunities to assist primarily with flood recovery.
This article was written by Brandon Elrod, writer for the North American Mission Board. It was published on baptistpress.com.