RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- With more than 800,000 families in the state without power, SBC of Virginia convention are mobilizing to provide emergency water and meals as well as cleanup assistance to neighbors whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Irene Aug. 27.
The Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia has deployed eight disaster relief teams, according to a news release from the convention. More than 100 volunteers are working on one feeding unit in Hampton and seven chain saw units are working in Virginia Beach, Hampton, Williamsburg and Richmond.
Feeding centers have been set up at First Baptist Church in Norfolk and Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton, according to the news release. Meals prepared at the centers will be distributed by the American Red Cross to families affected by the storm.
The team in Hampton hopes to feed around 2,000 Hampton area residents tonight (Aug. 29), said Mark Gauthier, the SBCV's mobilization director. "We were told that our initial response should be feeding those affected by flooding and power outages. But the reality of this storm has turned out to be mostly thousands of downed trees. When we realized this, we retooled our plan which now includes mostly chainsaw teams and flood recovery teams helping those still under water."
Eric Thomas, senior pastor of First Baptist, noted in the news release, "Our passion as a church is to love God supremely, love others sacrificially, and live the mission daily. We are thankful for the opportunity to partner with other churches and ministries to make much of Jesus in Hampton Roads during these days of stress and chaos. We can do much more together for God's glory."
"Liberty focuses on changing lives, communities and the world," said Grant Ethridge, senior pastor of Liberty Baptist Church, in the news release. "It's not just church, it's life. The partnership of multiple ministries working together for people in need is extremely valuable to get more accomplished for His Kingdom."
The SBCV effort is being conducted in partnership with Gleaning for the World, a humanitarian organization based in Concord, Va., by providing two tractor-trailer loads of water, cleaning supplies and other essential relief needs.
The Baptist General Association of Virginia placed its disaster relief volunteers on alert for a potential hurricane response to Hurricane Irene on Aug. 25, according to the BGAV Facebook page. Cell phones, gear boxes and "go bags" were prepared for the anticipated mobilization. The association also posted a page of disaster preparedness information on its website.
The association's disaster response team set up a feeding unit outside the Woman's Missionary Union of Virginia building, according to another note on the Facebook page. Those meals will be delivered to southern Virginia counties. The team also used the page to solicit prayers, Scripture quotations and words of encouragement for volunteers working in disaster relief efforts.
Compiled by Baptist Press senior writer and assistant editor Mark Kelly. The Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia convention is on the Internet at www.sbcv.org, with the Virginia Baptist Mission Board on the Internet at www.vbmb.org.
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