JEFFERSON CITY – Hundreds of Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief (DR) volunteers logged more than 4,300 volunteer-days after disasters in St. Louis, Poplar Bluff, Morehouse and Joplin this year, but Rick Seaton wants new recruits to get trained in mud-out.
“We only have 331 people trained in mud-out, but it’s usually a solid core of about 20-30 who have responded,” said Seaton, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) director of DR, referring to the cleanup after a flood. “It’s hot, hard, nasty, long work and with Missouri’s rivers, it’s going to continue to be a need into the future. We never have enough.”
He also pointed toward child care, communications and chaplaincy as areas with particular needs for trained volunteers.
“The chaplains were essential in Joplin,” Seaton said. “We had about 100 respond and they were tremendous. I can’t say enough about them. They learned a lot as they went out with the chainsaw crews, talked with people and listened to their stories, worked one-on-one encouraging local pastors and even attended funerals of the victims.”
The ranks of MBC DR volunteers swelled in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, and Seaton predicts – and prays – that will happen again after an extremely high profile disaster like the May 22 Joplin tornado.
“Joplin was just so unusual and on such a large scale that we really couldn’t expect any more workers than we did,” he said. “More than 400 of our 2,200-plus volunteers responded in Joplin, and that’s really an amazing percentage. They did a tremendous job, especially the chaplains. There are many ways that God has been working through the devastation and recovery and I hope more DR volunteers is one of those ways.”
Disaster Relief awareness is up also thanks to its presence on Twitter (@MOBaptists_DR) and Facebook (search: “Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief”).
There are four remaining DR training clinics scheduled this year: Aug. 19-20, First Baptist Church, Portageville; Sept. 23-24, Pulaski Baptist Camp; Oct. 7-8, First Baptist Church, Wright City; Oct. 21, Faith United Baptist Church, St. Joseph. The cost is $40 per first-time trainees which included identification and a t-shirt, and less for those getting re-trained. Volunteers need to recertify every three years. Those interested can go to www.mobaptist.org/mbcdr for more information and to register.
While Seaton would love to see more trained DR volunteers, he has nothing but praise for those who stepped up in the four major disasters that struck Missouri in 2011, including hundreds from individual churches.
“I’m very proud of Missouri Baptists,” he said. “I’m thankful not only for them, but also for all the prayers and donations from across the state. Thank you.”
BRIAN KOONCE/staff writer