DR tapering down Hurricane Ian response/watching Tropical Storm Nicole
Even as Florida Baptist Disaster Relief leaders and volunteers are beginning to taper down their Hurricane Ian response efforts, they are closely monitoring Tropical Storm Nicole, which may intensify into a Category 1 hurricane before making landfall late Wednesday night, Nov. 9, or early Thursday morning, Nov. 10, on Florida’s East Coast.
Category 4 Hurricane Ian hammered southwest Florida Sept. 28, causing catastrophic damage, and then moved across the state to create widespread flooding on Florida’s East Coast. Within 48 hours of Hurricane Ian’s landfall, FLDR teams began relief efforts. Over the course of the past six weeks, FLDR teams served in tandem with DR volunteers from 30 other Baptist state conventions, Southern Baptists’ Send Relief, American Red Cross, Salvation Army and other partners to deliver help, healing and hope to Floridians impacted by the storm.
A total of 12 recovery sites at local Florida Baptist churches were set up as headquarters for relief efforts.
Such a coordinated approach “helps the recovery occur more quickly … in the areas of greatest need. It helps us share resources and workloads, partnering together in a coordinated effort of ministry,” said David Coggins, FLDR director.
Relief efforts in Hurricane Ian’s aftermath were “robust,” he said. As of Nov. 8, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief throughout Florida reported:
- 2,352 gospel presentations
- 225 professions of faith,
- 2,785 Bibles distributed
- 27,187 volunteer days
- 248,572 work hours
- 10,161 heavy equipment hours
- 735,985 meals prepared
- 5,978 assessments
Additionally, SBDR efforts reported thousands of laundry loads, showers and temporary roofing provided as well as hundreds of chainsaw jobs completed, crisis buckets distributed, debris removals, mold remediations and overall flood clean-ups.
Behind the numbers are thousands of individuals whose lives have been touched physically, emotionally and spiritually by those serving God through DR efforts, Coggins said.
With such a massive and swift response to Hurricane Ian’s devastation, DR efforts are now tapering down.
Public feeding has ended at all 12 recovery sites. Operations have been suspended at eight sites: Crossroads Baptist Church and Riverside Church in Fort Myers, First Sarasota, First Baptist Church in Wauchula, First Baptist Church in Naples, First Baptist Church in Venice, and Calvary Baptist Church and First Baptist Church in Arcadia. The four response sites that are still operational—Murdock Baptist Church in Port Charlotte, New Hope Baptist Church in Cape Coral, First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach and McGregor Baptist Church in Fort Myers—will be suspending operations soon as the needs are diminishing.
The FLDR command center at Murdock Baptist Church in Port Charlotte, where 872 FLDR volunteers put in more than 46,000 work hours, served more than 200,000 meals, distributed more than 1,300 Bibles and shared the gospel close to 400 times, is currently being demobilized.
Pastor Ron Tipton, grateful for FLDR’s ministry in his community, said that DR “shows the strength of what it means to be a cooperative convention in this day and age.”
After Thanksgiving, FLDR leaders will assess needs in other locations and respond as appropriate.
At the same time, FLDR leaders are keeping a close eye on Tropical Storm Nicole.
Strong winds, heavy rain, high surf, rip currents and coastal flooding are expected along Florida’s southeast coast. Additionally, heavy rain is predicted up the East Coast.
Although FLDR volunteers may be weary, they stand ready to respond as needed after Nicole makes landfall in Florida, Coggins said.
For updates on FLDR response to Tropical Storm Nicole, visit our website or Facebook page. To give financially to support these relief efforts, go here.
Thank you for the updates!
Praying for those devastated by Hurricane Nicole.