By Message Staff
Louisiana Baptist disaster relief units are marshaling their forces in response to calls for help after powerful Hurricane Michael came roaring ashore on the Florida Peninsula Wednesday, Oct. 10.
A Louisiana Baptist feeding unit from Rolling Hill Ministry in Ruston leaves Friday morning, Oct. 12 for Panama City, Florida, which is 20 miles from where the storm came roaring ashore along with James Irvine’s shower and laundry trailer according to State Disaster Relief Director Gibbie McMillan.
“Pray for the teams going and the people impacted by this powerful storm,” McMillan said. “People there will be dealing with a lot of flooding and need the love of Christ at a time that can be quite stressful in their lives.”
McMillan said a chainsaw unit from First Baptist Church, Covington is also gearing up to go and assist with the recovery efforts.
“We are going to need volunteers to serve on one of the teams [feeding, mud-out and chainsaw] that will have a presence in Florida through late October,” he said.
David Abernathy, director of Rolling Hills Ministry, said they hope to begin feeding operations Saturday.
“Pray for our safety and travel,” Abernathy said. “And pray for the ones we are ministering to. They are the ones hurting right now and we want to love them and try to meet the needs in their life.”
HELP IS COMING
Joining the Louisiana Baptist Disaster Relief teams will be emergency personnel from a number of other states.
According to a news release from the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, the office said they are coordinating the assistance through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact system which offers personnel, equipment and commodities during governor-declared states of emergency or disasters.
The Louisiana Department of Health will send five ambulance strike teams. The Louisiana Office of the State Fire Marshal will provide nearly 20 personnel with water and structural rescue assets.
Those teams will pair up with about 75 firefighters and medics from the state’s Urban Search and Rescue taskforces in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Alexandria/Pineville and Monroe. Eighteen boats, one K-9 team and four medical specialists with two ambulances are included with those teams.
A helicopter and support team from the Louisiana National Guard is on standby to answer that call once the storm moves out of the region and the conditions improve to the point where that type of work can begin.
“First and foremost our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Florida and everyone who may be impacted by this storm,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “Louisiana has already deployed emergency response teams and equipment and stands ready to supply any additional assistance that may be needed. The people of Florida have certainly been there for Louisiana during our time of responding to disasters, and we will certainly be there to provide whatever help we can.”
The storm with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph is the most powerful ever to hit the Florida Panhandle.
A hurricane warning was posted Wednesday from the Alabama/Florida border to Suwanee River, Florida. The area also included southwestern Georgia.
Before making its way to the East coast and out into the Atlantic Ocean early Friday, the hurricane is expected to knock out power, knock down trees, damage structures and cause flooding in impacted areas.
While October is only 10 days old, it has already been a busy one for LBC Disaster Relief teams as mud-out teams from Eastern Louisiana Baptist Association, Northshore Baptist Association and Washington Baptist Association have worked in New Bern, North Carolina helping residents recover from Hurricane Florence.
They have already helped clean up debris resulting from flood waters into 4,300 homes, about one-third of houses in the city from Florence and subsequent flooding. The final team was scheduled to return to Louisiana Wednesday afternoon.
Still, the waterlogged Carolinas are bracing as Michael’s track has it coming over the Carolinas which could setback recovery efforts if the storm dumps large amount of rain on the area.
To assist with disaster relief operations with Michael, visit louisianabaptists.org/disasterelief. While there, individuals can donate to the response and find out more about how to serve on a disaster relief team. Those who have completed training should inform disaster relief leaders of their availability to serve on a team in the coming weeks by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.