BRISTOL, Fla. – Teams of Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers returning home from giving help, hope and healing in North Carolina after Hurricane Florence barely had time to blink before the call came out again. This time, it was Hurricane Michael, which smashed Florida’s Panhandle Oct. 10.
The storm took a direct shot to the Florida Panhandle near Mexico Beach and it was the third strongest in recorded United States history, the strongest to hit the Continental U.S. in 14 years and the strongest ever to hit the Panhandle. Panama City, Mexico Beach and several towns in between have been decimated as they endured the brunt of Michael’s punch. Linda Albrecht, a Mexico Beach Councilwoman, told CNN.com, “It feels like a nightmare.”
“The damage in twelve county areas has been devastating,” said Delton Beall, state director of Florida Baptist Disaster Relief. “We continue to ask for Southern Baptists’ prayers.”
The North American Mission Board (NAMB) provides national coordination and assistance in larger, multi-state responses for SBDR. NAMB president Kevin Ezell encouraged Southern Baptists to pray and prepare to serve in whatever way they can.
“I have told our Baptist leaders in Florida and Georgia that NAMB is here to support them and provide whatever they need,” Ezell said. “Hurricane Michael became an historic storm almost overnight. The survivors will need every prayer, dollar and helping hand that we can send them. Southern Baptists, we have an opportunity to send help, healing and the hope of the Gospel to people who have lost everything.”
Missouri Baptist teams in their distinctive yellow shirts and hats deployed to Florida Oct. 12, and are working in Bristol, a tiny town about 20 miles west of Tallahassee doing chainsaw and recovery work. They also brought mobile shower and laundry trailers to keep residents and first responders fresh as they go about their long shifts, and chaplains are on site available to anyone who needs a friendly ear to talk to. Mobiles kitchens are set up to serve thousands of hot meals a day.
Those wanting to volunteer can contact Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief Incident Command Planning at 816-895-2979. Both trained and untrained volunteers are welcome.
“Please pray for our teams in Florida and those affected by Hurricane Michael,” said Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief Director, Gaylon Moss. “Give at mobaptist.org/dr/michael/ to help support the efforts there, and go – please consider how you may be able to participate. We’re going to need teams for many, many weeks.”