Southern Baptist Disaster Relief ramps up response to Hurricane Beryl in Texas, continues efforts in Iowa, New Mexico

HOUSTON — Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) units have deployed in and around Houston up into Texarkana in response to Hurricane Beryl, which made landfall early Monday morning, July 8. Units with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC), Texans on Mission (formerly Texas Baptist Men), Arkansas and Alabama are providing meals, showers and chainsaw work to survivors.

As of Wednesday morning, about 1.7 million people in Texas were still without power according to Reuters. The death toll in Texas climbed to at least 11.

Scottie Stice, SBDR director for the SBTC, shared through email that they are continuing to discover needs through their assessments as they work “to match needs to resources” while volunteers from both inside and outside the state have already begun their efforts.

“It is always so encouraging when state directors quickly respond and are ready to help,” Stice said of his fellow SBDR directors who lead in other states. “I am so grateful for people praying as we continue to spread the gospel through meeting the needs of those affected by the storm.”

SBTC has a unit providing up to 5,000 meals and showers in Wharton, southwest of Houston, while Texans on Mission has a 15,000-meal-a-day feeding unit set up in Houston to prepare meals for those without electricity.

Each unit has been working with The Salvation Army to help get the meals to people in need.

“We are so appreciative of our Southern Baptist partners who, for more than 15 years, have worked with The Salvation Army to prepare and cook food for daily distribution during disasters of all kinds,” said Alvin Migues, emergency disaster services director for The Salvation Army in Texas, in a release.

“Our brothers and sisters from the Southern Baptist team have seamlessly integrated with our Salvation Army staff. It’s a relationship that works and greatly enhances our disaster service efforts,” Migues said. “The food produced is excellent, and we constantly receive great reports and feedback from storm survivors enjoying what might be their first hot meal for a couple of days.”

In the suburbs surrounding Houston, SBTC has chainsaw teams ready to serve in Spring and Jasper while an Alabama SBDR crew will serve in outside Houston. SBTC also has a shower unit supporting a shelter for hurricane survivors in Galveston County on the Texas Gulf Coast.

“Our volunteer leaders – those folks are top notch because they’re ready at a drop of a hat to get volunteers mobilized and out there,” Alabama disaster relief leader Mark Wakefield told The Alabama Baptist. “Our folks love to help.”

While Texas received the brunt of the storm’s initial impact, Beryl destroyed Beulah Baptist Church in Mansfield, La., and has brought heavy rain and severe storms as it has trekked across the United States, creating potential for flash flooding and tornadoes in New England and New York.

“We welcome prayers for wisdom and direction as we seek God’s guidance for His people and His church,” Freddie Williford, pastor of Beulah Baptist, told Louisiana’s Baptist Message. “I know it will be a long process with hurdles to come but ‘some boast chariots and some in horses but we boast in the name of the Lord Our God (Psalm 20:7).”

Outside Texas, SBDR crews from across the nation have been responding to flooding in Iowa as well as fires and floods in New Mexico.

In Iowa, SBDR teams from Georgia, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas-Nebraska joined Iowa Baptists to conduct flood recovery in Okoboji, Sioux City and Spencer, Iowa, after historic flooding hit the northwest part of the state.

Teams from Arizona, SBTC, Kentucky and the Hawaii-Pacific joined New Mexico SBDR crews to feed survivors and help with fire and flood recovery in New Mexico.

Send Relief, the compassion ministry of Southern Baptists, has sent a shipment of bottled water to Texas in support of SBDR to help with the response to Hurricane Beryl. Both Iowa and New Mexico received flood recovery supplies from Send Relief.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Brandon Elrod writes for the North American Mission Board.)

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