Napolitano thanks Southern Baptists for Isaac relief

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By Mickey Noah 

ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano called North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell Thursday (Sept. 6) to voice her personal gratitude to Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers who have diligently served since Hurricane Isaac hit the southeast Louisiana Gulf Coast 10 days ago.

"She called to say how much she appreciates everything Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are doing and to acknowledge that our efforts are a key part of the response," Ezell said.

"The investment Southern Baptists have made in disaster relief over the years has helped us become a key partner in times of crisis. I am grateful for all of our partners who make this happen. We know that many needs will be met and that ultimately many lives will be impacted with the gospel,” said Ezell.

Through Friday (Sept. 7), SBDR feeding teams have cooked and delivered more than 130,500 meals at field kitchens in Baton Rouge, Kenner, Covington, Houma, Westwego, Belle Chasse and Slidell in Louisiana, and in Long Beach and Pascagoula, Miss. 

The SBDR feeding units deployed to date have come from Louisiana, Texas (Southern Baptist Convention of Texas and Texas Baptist Men), Arkansas, Mississippi and Oklahoma.

If necessary, Southern Baptist feeding kitchens from the six state conventions have the capacity to potentially prepare up to 225,000 meals a day in Louisiana and Mississippi. After SBDR volunteers cook and package the meals, the food is delivered to flood victims by the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.

In addition to feeding operations, DR volunteers representing state conventions from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas (SBTC and Texas Baptist Men), and Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia are deployed in Louisiana. There, they are busy assessing damages; doing mud-out, chainsaw and other recovery jobs; providing childcare for victims; providing shower and laundry units; chaplaincy; and power generation.

A South Carolina DR team is serving at the American Red Cross incident command in Baton Rouge. Texas Baptist Men, led by TBM state disaster relief director Terry Henderson, is staffing the North American Mission Board’s incident command center at First Baptist Church, Covington, La.  A second NAMB incident command center is based at Lake Forest Baptist Church in New Orleans.

So far, SBDR has recorded 78 chainsaw, 54 mud-out and 8 roofing jobs; provided almost 2,200 showers and laundry loads for victims and volunteers; provided childcare for 41 children; and made 2,231 ministry contacts and 47 Gospel presentations, leading to five professions of faith and nine other decisions.

In a response to a FEMA request, SBDR is now also providing childcare facilities and volunteers at FEMA Disaster Aid Application Centers at Belle Chasse, La. (TBM), Chalmette, La. (TBM), Mathews, La., (Missouri DR), Slidell, La. (Mississippi DR), and New Orleans (SBTC).

One area in south Louisiana hit hard by Isaac’s storm surge was Laplace, a city of about 36,000 – about 22 miles west of New Orleans -- along I-10 in St. John Parish. Ironically, Laplace was not directly impacted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but many of its current residents migrated there from New Orleans to start life over after losing everything they owned during Katrina. Isaac’s four- to six-foot storm surge inundated much of Laplace.

Fred Luter, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, said “it’s unbelievable that seven years to the day both Hurricanes Katrina and now Isaac hit our area.  We’re still trying to rebuild from Katrina.

“By the grace of God, New Orleans didn’t flood this time, but we can identify with the folks in Plaquemines Parish and Laplace,” said Luter, adding that 60 of his church members were going to Laplace to help out on Saturday. “I look forward to seeing those yellow shirts tomorrow.

“Without a doubt, disaster relief is one of the things we’re really good at and that I’m most proud of,” said Luter, when told of Napolitano’s call to Ezell.

From its disaster operations center in Alpharetta, NAMB coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters through a partnership between NAMB and the SBC's 42 state conventions, most of which have their own state disaster relief programs.

SBDR assets include 82,000 trained volunteers, including chaplains, and some 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, childcare, 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, including the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.

Southern Baptists and others who want to donate to the disaster relief operations can contact their state conventions or contribute to NAMB's disaster relief fund via Other ways to donate are to call 1-866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543.  Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.”

Mickey Noah writes for the North American Mission Board. 

Date Created: 9/7/2012 5:50:57 PM

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