By Rick Burnette, CBF Domestic Disaster Response Manager
The past three years have been very active in terms of natural disasters. CBF Domestic Disaster Response is not equipped to engage in every national emergency or provide full-scale first response. However, at the invitation of affected CBF state and regional organizations, our priority is long-term recovery in under-served communities.
Because of the financial support and engagement of volunteers from CBF congregations, the following CBF Domestic Disaster Response activities were made possible over the past year:
After Hurricane Florence, a cluster of CBF recovery effort was centered around Trenton, N.C., with CBF Disaster Response working closely with CBF of North Carolina and engaging Daynette Snead as the Local Response Coordinator. First Baptist New Bern served as the host congregation for volunteer teams. Since November 2018, 14 homes and two churches have been assisted by 275 volunteers with two post-disaster peer counseling sessions organized for local pastors.
- 476 Myanmar refugees among seven ethnic congregations in New Bern, N.C., were assisted with the recovery of property, financial stabilization and post-crisis counseling through a World Relief Grant. Other engagement included a recent one-day Bible school at the First Chin Baptist Church of New Bern with assistance from members of Greystone Baptist, Raleigh.
- Short-term Hurricane Florence response was also provided in South Carolina.
- In Columbus County, N.C., a second cluster of recovery effort was focused on the rural community of Crusoe Island. In coordination with CBF of North Carolina and with assistance from Local Response Coordinator, Todd Padgett, 20 properties have been assisted by 461 volunteers, including congregations from Kentucky and Tennessee as well as various other groups. First Baptist Whiteville has served as the host congregation for volunteer teams.
- Following the devastation in Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria in 2017, CBF Disaster Response has worked closely with CBF of Florida and Iglesia Bautista de Metrópolis, and pastor Rev. Jesus Garcia. Since January 2018, the church has hosted approximately 37 teams comprised of 680 volunteers assisting with at least 55 properties.
After Hurricane Michael left a vast area of destruction in the Florida Panhandle, CBF Disaster Response partnered with CBF of Florida, arranging for Kenny Phillips to provide local response coordination. With a focus on the under-served communities of Port St. Joe and Marianna, CBF of Florida Associate Coordinator, Rachel Gunter Shapard, reports that 16 properties have been assisted by eight teams of 125 volunteers. During early June, approximately 70 youth from Georgia, Alabama and Florida churches engaged in the Panhandle Missions Madness event to assist with property cleanup and other activities.
- In March, CBF Disaster Response provided a grant to assist Alabama CBF with short-term tornado response in Beauregard.
- And through CBF Texas/Southwest, other grants were provided to help congregations recovering from Hurricane Harvey.
- A CBF Northeast-affiliated congregation was also assisted in Philadelphia.
- With Local Response Coordinators facilitating efforts in North Carolina, Florida and Puerto Rico, we are grateful that CBF Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina have appointed their own Volunteer Disaster Response Coordinators. Bringing diverse expertise, these volunteers play a key role in assisting with state and regional preparedness as well as coordinating local disaster response efforts.
- During May and June, three CBF Disaster Response capacity-building events were offered. Volunteer Disaster Response Coordinators, as well as the Local Response Coordinators, participated in the National VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster) conference in Nashville. A follow-up meeting was held during the General Assembly in Birmingham.
- Just prior to the General Assembly, over 30 persons engaged in a two-day training, gaining certification to engage in CBF Disaster Spiritual Care. This opportunity was organized by CBF Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling Manager, Gerry Hutchinson, and Rachel Gunter Shapard.
Events such as these make CBF Domestic Disaster Response much more effective. This would not have been possible without support from the CBF network.
Generous giving also enables CBF Disaster Response to maintain volunteer presence in recovery communities by providing shower trailers, essential for keeping disaster recovery teams clean and healthy. The purchase, maintenance and transfer of equipment depends on the support of the CBF network.
Currently, a significant tropical storm system is threatening the northern Gulf Coast. Even as recovery work continues in North Carolina, Puerto Rico and the Florida Panhandle, we must be prepared to engage whatever the 2019 storm season might bring.
To do so, CBF Disaster Response is counting on the enduring generosity and involvement of our CBF family.
Learn more about and support the ongoing efforts of CBF Disaster Response at www.cbf.net/dr.