Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are easily identifiable by their yellow shirts. Here, members of a chainsaw crew remove a tree from a home.
By Roger Alford
DULUTH, Ga. – Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief crews have been placed on alert to respond to hurricane-ravaged communities along the Gulf Coast and are preparing to pull out with as many volunteers as needed to help return the lives of victims back to normal as quickly as possible.
“We have more than 7,000 Disaster Relief volunteers in Georgia,” said Ricky Thrasher, head of Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief. “These are people who serve on chainsaw brigades to remove fallen trees, mud-out teams to remove mud from flood-damaged homes, feeding units to prepare food for victims and volunteers, childcare workers, chaplains, laundry units, shower units, just about whatever is needed to help get these victims of Hurricane IDA back on their feet.”
With winds clocked at 150 mph, Ida tied for the fifth-strongest hurricane ever to hit the continental U.S. Its winds were down to 60 mph early Monday, and forecasters said it would rapidly weaken while still dumping heavy rain over a large area.
Widespread property damage was reported, and more than 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi were without power as of Monday morning.
Thrasher said Georgia Baptists will respond with all the manpower requested by local authorities in the days ahead.
“Our volunteers have servant hearts,” he said. “Where they see a need, they gladly respond. Over the years, they’ve served just about everywhere disasters have struck. That means all over the U.S. and in many parts of the world.”
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said residents along the Gulf coast face a daunting task of cleaning up without the benefit of electricity.
“There is always light after darkness,” Edwards said. “And I can assure you we are going to get through this.”
Floodwaters from Hurricane Ida left many Louisiana residents stranded in homes while first responders worked methodically on search and rescue. Powerful winds left the electrical grid in shambles.
Ida weakened into a tropical storm overnight as it pushed inland over Mississippi with torrential rain and shrieking winds, its danger far from over. The full extent of its fury was still coming into focus at daybreak.
Thrasher said he hasn’t yet received definitive word where Georgia crews will be going, but he said it appears at this point they’ll be responding to Mississippi.
“We also don’t know yet how many of our units will be asked to respond,” he said. “That depends on the how many are requested. I can tell you, our people stand ready to respond, as many as are needed.”
Thrasher said he also knows that churches across Georgia will be eager to help.
“Experience has shown that the best way our churches can help is by providing financial support through the Georgia Baptist Mission Board,” he said. “So often, literal mountains of clothing and similar goods are sent to disaster areas that simply go to waste. If churches provide financial support instead, victims can purchase what they need when they need it.
To give to the Georgia Baptist’s hurricane relief effort, go to: https://gabaptist.org/disasterrelief/ and click on the giving link at the top of the page.