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By Joe Conway
WARREN, Mich. – Massive flooding in Michigan affecting tens of thousands
of homes and businesses has opened the door for ministry by Southern Baptist
Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers. The three-county area around Warren has been
describe as the nation’s largest natural disaster that no one has heard about,
largely because the news has been overshadowed by the fatal police-involved
shooting and ongoing unrest in Ferguson, Mo.
Baptist State Convention of Michigan Disaster Relief director Wynn
Williams said he expects the work in response to the flooding to last for
weeks. Assessments are ongoing, but more than 450 mud-out job requests have
already been recorded for homes inundated with water from slow moving rain
storms Aug. 11.
“There are 40,000 affected homes in Oakland County alone,” said
Williams. “There are another 30,000-40,000 damaged homes in Wayne County and
then all the work in McComb County. There was as much as 15 feet of water over
some of the expressways. Homes have damage from anywhere from a few inches to
several feet of flood water.”
The North American Mission Board (NAMB) has dispatched a mobile command
unit to help coordinate the response. NAMB SBDR coordinator Eddie Blackmon is
assisting Williams in organizing the effort.
“This is the highest number of affected homes I have seen in a single
response in the 15 years I have been working with SBDR,” said Blackmon. “We are
going to need a lot of help.”
NAMB SBDR executive director Fritz Wilson said the scope of the
flooding, and the size of the response needed, have received little attention
from national media because of the coverage of rioting in Ferguson.
“The spiritual opportunity in Michigan calls for the kind of committed
response Southern Baptists are known for in bringing help, healing and hope in
the midst of crises,” said Wilson. “God has been orchestrating circumstances in
and around Detroit for more than a year. We need to respond to this opportunity
And SBDR volunteers are serving in Ferguson, too. Missouri Baptist
Convention SBDR director Dwaine Carter said volunteers have been assisting with
clean up each day in Ferguson following overnight riots.
Meanwhile SBDR volunteers are engaged in active responses in Colorado, Hawaii,
South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Washington, and in rebuild efforts in New
York and New Jersey.
Ash-out work continues in response to record wild fires in Washington in
the Carlton Complex fire, which claimed more than 350 homes, and two other
major fires. Northwest Baptist Convention regional SBDR coordinator Paul Henry
reported 52 ash-out jobs have already been completed.
“We have volunteers from the Northwest convention, Utah/Idaho and
California actively working now,” said Henry. “We are expecting teams from
California, the Southern Baptists of Texas and Texas Baptist Men to arrive soon
to continue the work.”
Hawaii-Pacific Baptist Convention volunteers have been assisting
residents in the Keaau area southeast of Hilo. The area suffered heavy wind
damage from Hurricane Iselle.
“There are a lot of fallen trees,” said Hawaii SBDR coordinator Darrell
McCain. “There are still about 1,000 homes without power in the area. We are
expecting a chainsaw team from California this week to help with tree removal.”
Wilson said the immediate response of SBDR volunteers in states like
Hawaii and Washington has been impressive. He added that it demonstrates the
growing strength of the SBDR network.
“I want to commend the service and great leadership of Darrel and the
other leaders,” said Wilson. “Our volunteers are serving where there is great
need and great opportunity to share the gospel.”
Those wishing to donate to SBDR relief can contact
the Baptist convention in their state or
visit https://donations.namb.net/dr-donations. For phone donations, call
1-866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA
30368-6543. Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.”
NAMB coordinates and manages Southern Baptist
responses to major disasters through partnerships with 42 state Baptist
conventions, most of which have their own state Disaster Relief ministries.
Southern Baptists have 82,000 trained
volunteers—including chaplains—and 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw,
mud-out, command, communication, child care, shower, laundry, water
purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the three
largest mobilizers of trained Disaster Relief volunteers in the United States,
along with the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.
Joe Conway writes for
the North American Mission Board.
Date Created: 8/20/2014 11:56:03 AM
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®© Copyright 2014 North American Mission Board, SBC