Texas Baptist Men feed evacuees; BCFS shelters people with special needs


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Texas Baptist Men disaster relief volunteers are feeding thousands of people who fled the Gulf Coast in anticipation of Hurricane Gustav, and Baptist Child & Family Services is providing shelter for evacuees with special needs.

TBM is serving across the state. The disaster relief unit from Smith Baptist Association is in Lufkin, the Gregg Baptist Association unit is in Longview, the Dallas Baptist Association unit is in Marshall, and the TBM Disaster Relief Mobile unit—the 18-wheel tractor-trailer rig with the greatest capacity for emergency food service—is at First Baptist Church in Bryan.

East Texas Baptist University President Bob Riley, (standing) and United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt visit with a patient at the FEMA Medical Station located in Keys Gymnasium. ETBU was the site of an 80-bed capacity mobile hospital treating evacuees of Gustav. Leavitt came to visit the mobile hospital on the ETBU campus Sept. 2. PHOTO/ETBU/Mike Midkiff

As of late Aug. 31, the disaster relief teams had prepared more than 7,500 meals for evacuees and volunteers helping evacuees. Eight shower units positioned strategically across the state also have been working. A security unit also is at work to protect equipment and resources.

All TBM feeding units are on alert, meaning volunteers assigned to those units are prepared to minister within 24 hours of being called upon.

“It’s like we’re waiting on the shoe to fall,” said Gary Smith, TBM volunteer disaster relief coordinator. “We ramped up. We expected a lot of need, but to this point it has not happened—though a significant rain event still could take place.”

In San Antonio, Baptist Child & Family Services is sheltering about 290 evacuees with special needs, and the number is expected to rise. The group can shelter as many as 5,000 people with special needs across the state if needed.

BCFS-related shelters include Trinity Baptist Church, Shearer Hills Baptist Church, Park Hills Baptist Church and Alamo Heights Christian Church in San Antonio. Colonial Hills Baptist Church is open in Tyler.

“BCFS was given the role of caring for medical special needs evacuees in Texas because of our experience in caring for society’s most vulnerable,” said Haley Smith, a spokesperson for the agency.

“We view this as just another opportunity to impact the world the world for Christ. We are so thankful for our partner churches who serve as shelters and make it possible for us to take on this role.”

Churches listed as Red Cross shelters include First Baptist Church in Tyler, First Baptist Church in Bryan, First Baptist Church in Marshall and Fredonia Hill Baptist Church in Nacogdoches.

Memorial Baptist Church has evacuated its high-risk patients, but it remains open. Buckner International has evacuated its retirement and children’s homes in Beaumont.

Baptist General Convention of Texas Disaster Relief Coordinator Susan Ater is helping connect resources with other resources and people with shelters.

TBM’s response is part of a larger effort by Southern Baptist disaster relief. The group’s requests for feeding capacity has now doubled from 310,000 meals per day to more than 600,000.  More than 100 Southern Baptist disaster relief feeding units have been put on alert to mobilize along the Gulf Coast states.

Disaster relief is supported by designated gifts. To support Texas Baptist disaster relief, visit www.texasbaptistmen.org or www.bgct.org.

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