Christian, humanitarian and governmental relief groups have been serving hundreds of thousands of meals daily in the gulf-shore states pounded by Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Ivan. However, less than a week after Ivan’s deadly wrath, the relief groups – along with a million other Florida residents – may have to pack their bags to leave yet again: Hurricane Jeanne, the deadliest of the season, appears to be gearing up for a weekend landing at the states.
Jeanne, which has already caused at least 1,070 flooding deaths in Haiti, is expected to reach Florida by Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Currently, its sustained winds are at 100 mph.
“The last few days, we’ve prayed Jeanne wouldn’t come ashore at all, but now it appears to be headed for the east coast of Florida or the Carolinas,” said Jim Burton, disaster relief director of the North American Mission Board, which coordinates the Southern Baptist Convention’s response. “At least if it does come ashore on [Florida’s] east coast, we probably wouldn’t have to evacuate our units as we’ve done twice the last few weeks because we’re working in western Florida, Alabama and further west.”
Despite the threat, Burton said Southern Baptists are providing an average of 50,000 meals a day in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, West Virginia and Ohio . To date, the SBC has provided some 1.2 million meals for the Hurricane relief since Charley struck seven weeks ago. Additionally, SBC volunteers led more than 4,000 cleanup and recovery projects, and have helped staff the American Red Cross and Salvation Army mobile kitchen units.
“And today Southern Baptists put in an order for enough food for 1.2 million more meals,” Burton said. “We’re going to be doing this for a long time, and we haven’t even started the long-term rebuilding process that will probably take years.”
Since the recovery began, SBC members across the nation gave nearly $400,000 to the NAMB in generous funds for the hurricane disaster relief response. Many others have been offering their prayers for the comfort of the victims.
“Please pray for the continued strength and safety of our disaster relief teams,” said Robert E (Bob) Reccord, NAMB president, in an e-mail to thousands of Southern Baptists. “Many have traveled a long way to cut fallen trees, counsel discouraged people, clear debris and cook meals in Jesus’ name. God is powerfully blessing their ministry of compassion as many people are accepting Christ.”
To give to the NAMB’s relief, please visit www.NAMB.net.