At least three million Floridians, including thousands of Christian and humanitarian relief volunteers, were placed under mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders by Friday, Sept 24, 2004. The massive evacuation notice was sent out only 18 hours before the unanticipated occasion: Hurricane Jeanne, the deadly storm that drowned over 1,500 Haitians, will be slamming Florida by late Saturday.
If weather forecasts are correct, Jeanne will be the fourth hurricane to wreak havoc on the state this season; the last time such an event happened was in Texas, more than a century ago.
Beginning with Charley, the Category 5 storm that hit Florida’s southwest and central regions, the state suffered over $15 billion in damages and over 70 deaths. Frances which hit 3 weeks later, severely damaged the state’s midsection; Ivan, which hit only one week after Frances, landed on Florida's Panhandle.
Florida governor Jeb Bush warned residents that Jeanne could be stronger than Frances and Ivan.
"I can't imagine someone not taking this seriously after the last six weeks," Bush said.
Jack Beven, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami agreed, saying that the Category 3 storm could strengthen into a Category 4 storm with winds of at least 131 mph by the time it makes landfall.
Volunteers, thousands of whom came from out-of-state to help cook warm meals, spent their final days clearing the debris from the streets.
To date, volunteers from the Southern Baptist Convention alone prepared 420,596 meals and completed 1,621 recovery jobs for the Hurricane Ivan relief. In total, the SBC served more than one million meals and provided more than 17,600 showers over the hurricane season.
If you would like to make a financial contribution to the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Fund, make checks payable to the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and mail to: NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. To donate online, please visit www.namb.net/dr