First pray, then donate to Georgia Baptist fund for Harvey victims; disaster relief orientation set for Sept. 16

Texas National Guard soldiers arrive in Houston to aid citizens in heavily flooded areas from the storms of Hurricane Harvey. LT. ZACHARY WEST , 100th MPAD/Flickr
A dozen years ago today – August 29, 2005 – Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast in what would be known as the fifth most devastating storm to hit the nation in its history. The days of torrential rain resulted in a massive evacuation of New Orleans with families flooding into neighboring states in what was described as the biggest climate-driven migration since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Now it looks like history is repeating itself with Houston, not New Orleans, undergoing mass evacuation and as many as 30,000 left homeless. And when the waters begin to recede, Southern Baptists will be there to minister with a variety of ministries to help residents piece their lives back together with the Prince of Peace. Until then, state disaster relief coordinators like Stuart Lang are monitoring the situation and preparing to move when they are needed, but not before.

Timely response

“In natural disasters, first comes prayer and contributing financial resources for the needs to come. Then later follows the ‘boots on the ground’ Disaster Relief volunteers who minister through feeding stations, childcare units, chainsaw and mud-out teams, and chaplains,” he explained. As torrential rains continue to pound Texas with 52 inches of rain already recorded, Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief teams are on alert to respond. However, those teams will not roll out until first responders such as Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross determine the needs and prioritize locations. Lang, a state missionary, was among those on the first conference call Monday afternoon with fellow Disaster Relief coordinators in Texas and Louisiana. From Texas comes word that the disaster is already larger and has affected more homes than Katrina. After that storm, evacuees were transported to surrounding states for emergency housing. Georgia was one destination, with buses arriving throughout the night at Norman Park Conference center. Others headed to Toccoa. Following the Monday call, Lang stated that the only groups currently allowed into the storm area are military high-clearance vehicles. Evacuations have already begun in neighboring Louisiana as the storm marches slowly eastward.

Aiming to be effective

“We fully anticipate sending multiple teams to Texas, but not until we have a request to go, know where we’re headed, and the waters begin to recede. Our primary foci for this type of disaster includes mass feedings, childcare, chaplaincy, and mud-out. However, we cannot effectively perform any of those ministries until the waters recede,” he stressed. Lang stressed the most important contribution at this point is prayer for those affected and the safety of evacuees and those serving in rescue efforts. Secondly, donations can be made by visiting this donation page Hurricane Harvey relief by the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. Stay tuned for updates via Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief.
All proceeds go directly to help disaster victims. “We are in need of credentialed volunteers,” Lang added, encouraging attendance at the upcoming disaster relief orientation at Sept. 16 at New Providence Baptist Church in Forsyth. Information and registration can be found at For a downloadable pdf to register, click here.

Patience encouraged

Lang also stated that churches and individuals can begin to assemble and collect Buckets of Care. Information is located at the GBC Disaster Relief site, where directions for bucket ingredients and mud out instructions can also be found. He discouraged the collecting of supplies “unless the individual doing the collecting knows what they are collecting is actually needed, have the means to transport the items, and know for certain that you have someone ready to receive the distribute them on-site. “As wonderful as the ministry of disaster relief is, we are limited. We are not first responders. We do not have the capacity to help with warehousing and transport of donations. Because of our agreements with other state conventions and relief organizations, we do not self-deploy," he explained. “Our purpose is to serve those who are affected, which normally requires patience on our part."
Disaster Relief, evacuees, Houston, Hurricane Harvey, Texas