Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Services After a Disaster
The Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) was established to assist victims of disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and terrorist attacks. In addition to response services, SBDR provides assistance with reconstruction support, counseling, and bilingual services. Partnerships exist with the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, and the Department of Homeland Security.
The chain saw, mud out, feeding, water purification, or shower units are owned and operated by local Southern Baptist churches, regional Baptist associations, or state Baptist conventions. Volunteer teams respond to disasters within their own state and work cooperatively with teams from other states in larger emergencies, including international situations.
The first SBDR disaster relief effort occurred in 1967 in the Rio Grande Valley and northern Mexico to serve hot meals in response to Hurricane Beulah. Since then, the program has assisted in 23 major disaster relief efforts in the U.S. and oversees. In 2005, Southern Baptist volunteers responded to 166 disasters, prepared over 17 million meals, repaired over 7,000 homes, removed debris from nearly 14,000 yards – and all of it was free of charge.
In addition to responding to events in the immediate aftermath, the Southern Baptists are also involved in long-term recovery after disasters. The all-volunteer agency supplies workers to repair or rebuild residences once the owner has exhausted all insurance options. Their focus is on assisting widows, homebound persons, and the uninsured. Because of the long lead-time necessary to receive assistance from state or federal sources, the Southern Baptists are prepared to assist more rapidly and with less red-tape than government agencies.
With their ability to focus on both short- and long-term recovery, the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Services is able to enter a disaster region quickly and staying in the area for months or years if necessary.
But beyond the hammers-and-nail, and hot meals or hot showers, the Disaster Relief is a tool used to evangelize to those affected by the disaster. Meeting the victims’ physical needs then allows the volunteers to share the love of Jesus Christ with them, often in some of the most helpless moments of their lives.
Faith-based organizations receive funding for disaster recovery efforts from the Department of Homeland Security and the international community. The SBDR also relies on donations from individuals for funding. Donations can be made to a general fund or to a specific disaster event through the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief web site.
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