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NY/NJ/Pa. relief: Resolve high, vols limited

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. (BP)--The Baptist Convention of New York is mobilizing more than 100 Virginia college students to clean out flooded homes in recovery efforts that will likely continue through October, Mike Flannery, BCNY disaster relief director, reported.

Students from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., will arrive Friday to work with other volunteers through Tuesday, Sept. 27, in cleaning up after the flooding caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee that struck within days of one another in late August and early September.

Flannery, who is working to mobilize additional volunteers to help, noted, "We have about 300 that we feel we can accomplish. We need 10 teams every day to accomplish that goal, but we don't have that."

Students at Davis College in Johnson City, N.Y. are manning a feeding unit on campus, preparing up to 1,500 meals a day.

The college students are an answer to prayer, Flannery said. With Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams responding to several concurrent disasters across the country, the Baptist convention appealed to college students to help.

"What we owe it to is good prayer support," Flannery said of the students' help.

Flannery sees an opportunity for the students "to show their love for Jesus Christ and to witness" and thus grow in their faith.

"Most of them are Christians," Flannery said. "But we expect some of them will come to know Christ Jesus through the experience."


In the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey, volunteers have led a homeowner to Christ, disaster relief director Karlene Campbell said. Some 120 volunteers have prepared nearly 75,000 meals over the past 12 days in Hazleton, Pa., with help from the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia and the Virginia Baptist Missions Board, Campbell said.

While the need for meals is declining, requests for clean-up assistance continue to come in, especially in hard-hit Bloomsburg, Pa., where students from Juniata Mennonite School were helping mud-out teams from Thompsontown Baptist Church clean up a home on Sept. 21.

"At least several hundred homes were affected by the flood, with around 40 homeowners requesting assistance," Campbell said. "We are sure that this number will increase. Since our resources are limited, we are focusing on priority-one requests."

Meanwhile, the BCNY's North Jersey Network association is working with a limited crew in cleaning up perhaps hundreds of homes in the state, said Dennis O'Neill, who along with his wife Elaine are newly appointed NJNet disaster relief coordinators. Hampered in getting equipment and working with a handful of trained volunteers in the association, O'Neill said he is prepared to buy equipment and supplies to begin work immediately. Only four of some 20 trained NJNet volunteers are currently available.


"There's an excitement for helping the people. We're here to meet the need and help in the crisis" O'Neill said. "We haven't been able to get teams in because they're everywhere else. Our situation is we don't have the equipment."

NJ Net is aiming to buy such big-ticket items as a trailer, generator and power washer, along with less-expensive shovels, saws and other equipment to get the job done, O'Neill said.

"We're ready to roll," he said. "Somehow, someway, we're going to get the work done. We're trusting in the Lord to supply the needs and He'll come through somehow."

Diana Chandler is a freelance writer in New Orleans.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press


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