Hundreds of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers have flocked to southeastern states to respond to the needs of tornado victims. Volunteers are currently active in six states.
Arkansas SBDR director Joe Garner explained the work that volunteers are doing in the wake of the tornadoes. “These storms were so strong that the slabs were swept clean by the wind. There is very little chainsaw work to do. It is mainly cleaning debris,” he said.
In Tennessee, the work that needs to be done is still being assessed. “We have 30 job requests and expect more,” said Tennessee Baptist Convention SBDR director David Acres. “Much like Arkansas, most of the homes here were completely destroyed. There is little to do even in recovery. Everything is gone.”
In addition to physical labor, SBDR chaplains are responding to community members’ spiritual and emotional needs.
An 8-year-old boy was lost in the storms and Chaplain John Temple spoke to the child’s classmates.
“Our chaplains have had the opportunity to serve people who are in great need,”said Mississippi Baptist Convention Board childcare coordinator Donna Swarts.
“This is one of the many things that DR volunteers do so well. In the immediate response, they are there. The physical help is tremendous. The presence of someone who cares truly helps. It begins the healing process for survivors. And then the long-term nature of our volunteers’ service...eventually brings hope,” North American Mission Board disaster relief executive director Fritz Wilson said.
Publication date: May 6, 2014