Less than 48 hours after Hurricane Ian’s landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams are on the road, moving toward ministry opportunities in the hurricane’s heartbreaking aftermath.
Hours upon hours of preparation and prayer have become action as teams of Florida Baptist DR volunteers, along with DR teams from six additional Baptist conventions, began moving equipment and supplies Sept. 30 to seven ministry sites along Florida’s southwest Gulf Coast where Hurricane Ian unleashed its category 4 fury Sept. 28.
Additionally, FLDR leaders are cooperating with Southern Baptists’ Send Relief, the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army in relief efforts.
More than two million Floridians have experienced power outages, with untold numbers losing their homes or businesses due to Hurricane Ian’s enormous storm surge and unrelenting winds. Thousands already have been rescued from flooded homes, even as the magnitude of hurricane damage is being assessed.
“We don’t know what we are about to face,” said David Coggins, FLDR coordinator, as he watched DR trucks and volunteers set out from Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center in Leesburg, where DR supplies are warehoused, to Florida’s Gulf Coast.
“None of us has what it takes to do what we are about to do. We will trust all of this to God.”
After equipment and supplies have arrived at their destinations, additional DR volunteers will begin setting up the portable kitchens, showers, communications technology and everything needed to minister in Jesus’ name to hurricane victims, with a goal of being operational early next week.
Ministry efforts of DR volunteers will vary but will be responsive to the specific need, such as serving meals, removing downed trees with chainsaws, helping homeowners remove debris from their flooded homes, praying with trauma-stricken victims, possibly even going to the local morgue as families identify loved ones who died as a result of the hurricane’s onslaught.
“We will walk through heartache in the coming days, but in the end we will celebrate,” Coggins said.
For updates on FLDR response go to facebook.com/FLBaptistDR and flbaptist.org/dr-current-response. To give financially in support of these relief efforts go to https://flbaptist.org/dr-give/. Donations of items are not needed at this time.