When storms strike, FL Baptist DR teams poised to bring help, healing, hope

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Pictured Above:Subtropical storm Ana formed in the Atlantic Ocean early Saturday, May 22, 2021. Image via NOAA/CBS News.

JACKSONVILLE— With the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season predicted to be busier than average with a potential of 13-20 named storms—including Claudette and two others that have formed in the past month—Florida Baptist Disaster Relief and Recovery (FLDR) teams stand prepared and ready to respond at a moment’s notice.

“Our mission motto is ‘bringing help, healing and hope,’” said David Coggins, newly elected state disaster relief director. “But this is more than a motto, because our actual mission is being prepared and being involved to make a difference in people’s lives when the time comes.”

The Atlantic hurricane season officially started June 1 and will extend through Nov. 30. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted 10 of the named storms could become major hurricanes. Yet forecasters don’t expect the historic level of storm activity as seen in the 2020 record-breaking season with 30 named storms.

As the season develops, FLDR is wrapping up the last of six volunteer regional trainings, preparing equipment to respond when the storm strikes and cooperating with other emergency response partners.

“In preparation for hurricane season and for all possible storms, we have been continuing to maintain, replace and keep equipment situationally ready for response,” said Coggins.

“We have a great team, led by Marvin Corbin in operations, that keeps our equipment in good repair and maintained,” he said. Corbin serves as Florida Baptists’ FLDR operations manager.

Disaster Relief, FLDR, Hurricane Sally“We also have been involved with our partners at the state emergency management, American Red Cross and The Salvation Army, and others in training and meetings discussing the upcoming season and preparing for the event of a storm,” Coggins added.

This year, DR training featured a hybrid model of online and in-person preparation in response to pandemic measures. State volunteer task force leaders are working in their respective ministry areas to get their volunteers current and ready to respond.

“We have online training that we have been utilizing since last year when the pandemic forced us to discontinue in-person training,” said Coggins. “We have continued to utilize this online training for our volunteers for them to continue to enhance their training and preparation.”

Currently 5,000 volunteers are trained, but the number to be deployed depends on the impact of the storm.

When a storm impacts the state, Florida Baptists in affected communities as well as their neighbors will find a group of volunteers trained beyond responding to just physical needs but also treating the emotional and spiritual wounds a natural disaster can often inflict on survivors.

“Expect a DR volunteer who has been trained and who has a burden for people who are hurting. Whether it is serving a hot meal, cutting trees, giving cold water, or listening to their hurt, the DR volunteer is committed to being the hands and feet of Jesus and sharing His love in verbal witness, servant witness and prayer for the hurting,” said Coggins.

Coggins encourages Floridians to prepare ahead of a storm by taking the necessary precautions now. Those include preparation in case of a power outage, emergency evacuations routes for their region and emergency sheltering.

“People need to stay aware of weather situations as those develop over the hurricane season. Families should have a plan in place and follow that plan when the storms begin to develop.”

When a storm impacts the state and FLDR responds in the aftermath, a command center will be established and publicized to the local community. Contact information will be shared through local media, local emergency management directors, social media platforms and a public presence.

A public assistance phone number will be publicized and disseminated at the time of emergency response. Florida Baptists may also reach FLDR through a direct number at the Baptist Building in Jacksonville, 904-596-3121, or through the convention website, where updated information will be available.

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