Officials advised more than a million people to clear out of Florida to avoid what they called the state’s “mightiest storm in a decade,” Thursday, September 2, 2004. All out of state relief workers from Christian and humanitarian groups, thousands of whom were stationed in Southern Florida to assist the Hurricane Charley victims, were also told to head inland to avoid yet another round of 140-mph winds and torrential rains.
According to forecasters, Hurricane Frances, with its 145 mph winds, is at least as strong as the Category 4 Charley and is twice the size. Charley, which ripped through southern Florida three weeks ago, caused billions of dollars in damages, left thousands homeless and killed 27 people.
With the shelters already filled with the victims of Charley, State officials expressed fears of finding enough room for those who would decide to weather the upcoming Frances.
Mickey Caison, manager of the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board’s Disaster Operations Center, said most out-of-state Southern Baptist volunteers would be relocating to a temporary post in Perry, Ga.; Others, Caison explained, will be returning to their home states.
“Most of them cooked lunch this morning and are packing and pulling out,” Caison said of the thousands of Southern Baptist volunteers who were stationed in the post-Charley Florida.
Those volunteers who chose to go to Perry, Ga., will be housed at the First Baptist Church; equipment used by the volunteers, including the mobile kitchen and shower units, will be stored in neighboring agricultural center fairgrounds.
Forecasters said Frances would most likely land by Saturday morning, and urged the public to leave by Friday, midday. According to Caison, the evacuation of Southern Baptist workers began on Sept 1, a bit earlier than the public evacuation, to avoid traffic delays associated with widespread evacuations.
According to the Associated Press, some “300,000 in Palm Beach County, 250,000 in Broward County and 320,000 in Miami-Dade County,” were told to evacuate. In addition, up to 185,000 people were urged out of Brevard County, and 120,000 in Volusia County.
Contributions to the disaster relief fund of the Southern Baptist Convention can be sent through the North American Mission Board. To give to the cause, visit online at www.namb.net/disasterrelief or mail to North American Mission Board, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543.