The floods destroyed an estimated 18,000 Colorado homes last September, 80 percent of which were located in Boulder, Larimer and Weld counties where SBDR volunteers are concentrating rebuild efforts.
Currently 40 SBDR volunteers are working in Colorado, Mickey Caison, North American Mission Board rebuild coordinator, reported. NAMB's goal for the summer is to recruit 50 volunteers per week through Oct. 31.
"We get to see a magnificent transition," Caison said. "Often don't have hope. But when our volunteers get on site and get started, it really makes a difference … emotionally, physically and spiritually."
Fritz Wilson, NAMB's disaster relief executive director, said Southern Baptist church groups can participate even if they do not have the formal SBDR training typically required to respond immediately after a disaster.
"We will take any church group willing to come from wherever they are across the country to help families rebuild their homes," Wilson said. "The work is very similar to what groups did during the rebuild efforts after Hurricane Katrina. All a team needs is a willingness to serve and a couple of team members who understand basic construction skills."
While many teams have come from Denver churches and church plants, more than 10 other state Baptist conventions have sent DR teams to Colorado.
The need for volunteers is more significant now than ever before, Caison noted. Immediately following the flood, many of the damaged homes were inaccessible because so many roads and bridges had been destroyed. Now, however, initial repairs have been made and access to more houses is possible, increasing the workload for the SBDR rebuild.
"A lot of times our people want to respond to the latest and most urgent disaster and they forget about the people that were hit by a disaster a while back," Wilson said.
Many homeowners have been out of their homes through the winter, so there is an urgency to get now-reachable homes cleaned out and repaired before next winter.
While some construction work is needed for the rebuild, including carpentry, roofing and painting, Caison said the biggest task is to clean out or "mud-out" dirt, debris and boulders the floods left behind.
In Montana, construction and home repair also is the biggest recovery need. While the amount of destruction was significantly less, with approximately 50 damaged homes, the need for volunteers also is great.
Only 40 volunteers have worked in Montana since last November, including two college mission teams, said Dan Stewart, DR coordinator for the Montana Southern Baptist Convention.
"We try to accommodate our volunteers by finding a job that fits them," Stewart said. "We just want to work together with the crews and the families we're working for and make sure that everyone goes away happy."
The Montana project is focused on the city of Havre and an Indian reservation at Fort Belknap. Stewart and the Montana Baptist DR team are partnering with the tribal council on the reservation as well as a Native American ministry started by one of the tribal members to repair damaged homes. They expect to finish by summer 2015.
The main focus of all of the SBDR projects, however, is not just repairing homes, but changing lives, Wilson said.
"As an organization, we want to emphasize that the ministry to the family is more important than the work we do on their house," he said. "If a team can come in on a weekend and work through the week, even if they have to travel two days, they can make a significant impact in the life of a family."
For more information on volunteering for Montana flood recovery efforts, contact Dan Stewart at 406-465-6097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NAMB coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters through partnerships with 42 state Baptist conventions, most of which have their own state disaster relief programs.
Southern Baptists have 82,000 trained volunteers -- including chaplains -- and 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.
To donate to SBDR efforts, contact the Southern Baptist convention in your state or visit donations.namb.net/dr-donations. Donations are also accepted at 1-866-407-NAMB (6262) and at NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Designate checks for "Disaster Relief."
Kristen Camp writes for the North American Mission Board. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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