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'Incredible amount of ministry' under way in superstorm's wake

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
HARRISBURG, Pa. (BP) -- Hundreds of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers continued to provide ministry in the wake of Hurricane Sandy Friday, Nov. 1. More than 450 volunteers with some 45 units from nine Baptist state conventions were working in at least six states affected by the storm.

SBDR volunteers from Kentucky, New York and Virginia were working at feeding kitchens in New York. In New Jersey, volunteers from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, North Carolina and South Carolina were feeding storm victims. Virginia volunteers continued to serve alongside West Virginia volunteers in the Mountaineer state. Assessment teams were working in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. Chain saw and recovery teams were also at work across the region.

"There is an incredible amount of ministry taking place," SBDR area response commander Mark Gauthier said. "We have four kitchens feeding in New York, four in New Jersey and one in West Virginia. There are another half dozen en route to New York now," said Gauthier, who serves as mobilization director for the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia state convention.

Three Kentucky Baptist kitchens were serving at Aqueduct Racetrack, on Staten Island and at Deer Park on Long Island, all in New York. A Baptist General Association of Virginia kitchen was feeding at Rockaway, N.Y.

Volunteers from Pennsylvania-South Jersey were serving in Hammonton, N.J., where they were joined by a kitchen and team from South Carolina. Georgia volunteers also were serving with their kitchen at Waretown, N.J. Two North Carolina kitchens and their volunteer teams were serving in New Brunswick and Tom's River, N.J.


The mobilization of another half dozen kitchens and 250 volunteers was in full swing Friday with teams from Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Southern Baptist of Texas, Texas Baptist Men and Tennessee on their way to New York.

Fritz Wilson, executive director for disaster relief for the North American Mission Board, said he expects most of the teams to be serving in the New York City area by Monday, with a capacity to produce 450,000 hot meals each day. Potential requests for additional meal-per-day capacity could take the number well above 450,000 meals per day provided by SBDR volunteers.

Video of a North Carolina feeding unit at Rutgers University is available for download at NAMB President Kevin Ezell released a video on the SBDR response to Sandy this week. The video may be downloaded at

From its disaster operations center in Alpharetta, Ga., NAMB coordinates 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, along with 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 go to NAMB's disaster relief fund site at 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."

Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board.

Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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