MANDEVILLE, La. – The MBC Disaster Relief (DR) ministry scaled back in their response to the southern Louisiana city of Mandeville earlier this month. When Hurricane Ida blew through the area on Aug. 29, MBC DR units were in Texarkana, Ark., staging so they could have a rapid response. Then 24 hours after the storm cleared, MBC DR volunteers were arriving in the city and set up to serve meals to storm survivors.
Mandeville is on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain about 35 miles north of New Orleans.
There were hundreds of homes damaged by water and high winds. First Baptist Church of Mandeville became a site of operations for MBC DR units. The church opened its facilities to the MBC crews and worked hand in hand with them to minister to the needs of the community.
They set up a mobile kitchen (feeding unit) able to provide thousands of meals per day. Chain saw recovery crews as well as flood recovery (mud out) crews went from home to home to help people get their lives back toward normal again. Chaplains served throughout the community offering prayers, counsel and support to those who lost property and had their lives disrupted.
Missouri teams expected to wrap up their efforts on Oct. 9. As of The Pathway press deadline they were reporting the following results:
• Salvations – 2
• Meals Prepared – 15,900
• Meals served – 10,000+
• Homes cleaned – 281 (flood recovery and chainsaw)
• Volunteer Days – 1,568 (Mo. only, including other states – 2400)
• Volunteer Hours – 15,568
Joe Dayringer, of Kearney, was serving as an Incident Commander or “white hat” during the latter part of September. He said there were some definite “God moments” as he organized the volunteers – some of whom were going out to homes to help clean up and others who were cooking meals in the mobile feeding unit.
“There was a chaplain on my team by the name of Harold Myers. He met a guy named Matthew on the parking lot who had come by to see if he could have some of the used pallets that had brought in supplies of food. Matthew said he goes by the name of “Turtle.”
He wanted to take the pallets and tear them apart to recycle the wood and make a little money.” The chaplain gave him permission and engaged him in conversation about the Lord.
Dayringer said, “As he talked to us he told us his wife has multiple sclerosis (MS) and her yearly medical costs are about $20,000. He recycles the pallets to help pay for her medicines.”
They helped him with the pallets and then asked if they could pray for him. Turtle said yes, but he wanted them to come up to the cab of his truck where his wife could be prayed for as well.
Dayringer said as the chaplain prayed, both Turtle and his wife were “crying big crocodile tears.” They shared the gospel with Turtle and his wife.
Another one of the IC “white hats” was Toby Tucker, a DR volunteer from Arnold. He said there are many things involved in the incident command center, and it is hard to put a finger on just one thing. He listed the tasks involved in a large DR response such as they had at Mandeville: assessment, feeding, chaplains, recovery, showers, laundry, housing of volunteers and receiving and handing out donated goods. This is a big job to juggle all these matters.
But Tucker said, “You realize that God has already orchestrated everything that has and is going to happen at your site and what you have to do is allow Him use us in His work. Make good decisions, do what is right, give good direction and support to your team leaders and let them do their jobs, keep the organizational focused on showing Gods love and telling folks about Jesus.”
Dayringer told of a brand new chaplain on their team. Her name is Darlene Heikkila, of Mt. Vernon. She is a former IMB missionary, and her husband has passed away. Mrs. Heikkila had gone through training for DR as a new way to do missions work since retiring. She sat at a welcome table providing intake services for people coming to the site from the community. Her welcoming smile and courteous responses helped the people feel more at ease as they stopped in for services.
She also set up a schedule for the hundreds of MBC DR volunteers to have group devotions delivered each day. Dayringer said she did a fantastic job for a new volunteer.
Gaylon Moss, MBC DR director said the units would be wrapping up operations and coming home on Saturday, Oct.9.
“With the help of Illinois Baptists, Kansas/Nebraska Baptists, Minnesota/Wisconsin Baptists and others we have averaged over 50 volunteers each day for the past 6 weeks in Mandeville, LA alone,” he said.
He added, “Imagine the impact of the local church (FBC Mandeville) having over 10,000 meals prepared and served from their parking lot. And there were over 265 homeowners who were assisted by volunteers hosted by this church.
“We were faithful to ‘do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ Sometimes we plant, other times we water, but we seek God for the increase.”