Early reports say West Coast tsunami damage light

By Staff 

ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Despite Friday's devastating 8.9 earthquake in Japan, the resulting tsunamis striking Hawaii and the West Coast have had minimal impact, and may not generate the need for swift Southern Baptist Disaster Relief response.

“We have made contact with all the western conventions – including the Northwest, Canada, Alaska and Hawaii conventions – and everybody has told us that the impact at this point has been minimal,” said Mickey Caison, disaster relief team leader for the North American Mission Board.

“Veryl Henderson with the Hawaii convention said the waves have passed and clean-up has begun,” said Caison, “but they’re not sure whether a big DR response will be necessary.”

However, Caison said further damage assessment will continue by West Coast state convention DR staff into next week. He said word is not yet in on American Samoa and some other Pacific islands, although no major damage was reported in Guam.

Baptist Global Relief (BGR) is the lead SBC entity handling the response in Japan itself, where the earthquake – called the fifth worst in recorded history – and the ensuing 23-foot tsunami that hit the east coast of Japan has left untold hundreds dead, according to news reports.

Whether Southern Baptist disaster relief volunteers will be needed in Japan remains to be seen until the assessment is complete and a relief strategy has been defined, said Jeff Palmer, BGR’s executive director.

“We hope to have someone on ground tomorrow for an initial assessment and contact with Baptist partners there,” Palmer said. “We have great Baptist partners that we will contact and see how we can initially support them with resources and expertise in the response.


If disaster relief specialists are needed, BGR will mobilize teams from the Baptist state conventions on call, Palmer added. “We have notified our call-out states to be on standby,” Palmer said. “Alabama is the first on call for the month of March.”

Next week, NAMB’s Caison said SBDR relief work will continue in connection with recent flooding in Ohio, with disaster relief volunteers being mobilized from Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.

After a series of tornadoes in Louisiana, the Louisiana state convention DR team has deployed three chainsaw units, two shower units, chaplains and a 12-person feeding team for that state.

In the Texas Panhandle, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention disaster relief volunteers recently responded to wildfires in the Amarillo area, which torched more than 25,500 acres and destroyed 70 homes.

Date Created: 3/12/2011 9:06:32 AM

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