Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers prepare for active hurricane season

MATAGORDA, Texas — Hurricane Beryl made landfall early Monday morning near Matagorda as a Category 1 hurricane with 80 mph winds after wreaking havoc in the Caribbean as a Category 5 storm where it claimed the lives of at least 12 people. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) and Send Relief are already helping survivors.

“Send Relief has been assessing the needs in the Caribbean and Mexico through our partners on the ground,” said Coy Webb, crisis response director for Send Relief. “Leaders with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams in Texas have also deployed resources near areas of greatest impact.”

The storm knocked out power for more than 2.5 million people, and Webb reported that Texans on Mission (formerly Texas Baptist Men) has sent a mobile kitchen and equipment to Houston with a capacity to provide up to 15,000 meals a day, while the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) disaster relief team has a kitchen in Wharton, Texas, ready to prepare up to 5,000 meals a day.

Send Relief also delivered a shipment of water to Dallas to support the SBDR response in the state.

“Already this year, SBDR has been active in responding to what has been a significant year for tornadoes and wildfires through the U.S.,” said Webb, who served as an SBDR director in Kentucky before joining the Send Relief team. “Send Relief has supported SBDR’s efforts with funding and other resources, and we’re preparing for this year’s hurricane season as volunteers gear up to do what they do best, offer help and hope in Jesus’s name.”

Hurricane season officially begins June 1 and runs to November 30 every year. When Beryl strengthened to a Category 5 hurricane, though, it set the record as the earliest storm to reach that intensity, a potential forecast of what experts expect to be an overly active hurricane season this year.

Southern Baptists have built SBDR into one of the nation’s three largest providers of disaster relief since the first response efforts began in the late 1960s with an established base of thousands of trained volunteers and a network that responds to crises whether they be local, regional or national.

Send Relief provides resources and assists state SBDR teams with logistical support, particularly in facilitating large-scale responses, such as to major hurricanes, that require dozens of teams and thousands of volunteers from across the nation to activate and meet needs.

Along with assisting at the national and state levels, Send Relief also aims to provide resources to local churches to help them serve their communities in the aftermath of disaster.

Send Relief recently launched a virtual course — “How to be a Disaster-Ready Church” – designed to help churches prepare to be a resource to their communities when tragedy strikes. The resource offers insight into how best to connect with local partners to prepare for disaster and gives churches the opportunity for their volunteers to receive training through SBDR.

To learn more about how to connect with state SBDR teams, click here. To donate to Send Relief’s 2024 hurricane response efforts, click here.

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

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