Texas Baptist ministries gear up for Hurricane Gustav


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As Gulf Coast residents prepared for the onslaught of Hurricane Gustav, Texas Baptists geared up for ministry.

Four Texas Baptist Men feeding teams were activated to serve in the state as the initial wave of people began evacuating southern Louisiana.

Keys Gymnasium at East Texas Baptist University has been transformed into a FEMA Medical Station to treat evacuees fleeing from Gustav. Nurses from the Oregon Disaster Medical team work at the nurses’ station in a gym normally used for practices and intramurals. The mobile hospital has an 80 bed capacity. PHOTO: ETBU/Mike Midkiff

The Disaster Relief Unit from Smith Baptist Association was slated for deployment Aug. 30 to serve at Harmony Hill Baptist Church in Lufkin. The Gregg Baptist Association unit was prepared to serve in Longview. The Dallas Baptist Association unit was scheduled to travel Aug. 30 to Marshall.

The statewide TBM Disaster Relief Mobile Unit was en route to Bryan, where it was to set up at First Baptist Church.

All TBM feeding units were placed on alert, meaning they are prepared to minister within 24 hours of being called upon.

TBM’s response is part of a larger effort by Southern Baptist disaster relief. The group’s requests for feeding capacity doubled from 310,000 meals per day to more than 600,000 as Gustav gained momentum.

More than 100 Southern Baptist disaster relief feeding units were put on alert to mobilize along the Gulf Coast states within a day or two after hurricane’s landfall.

Meanwhile, the Texas Governor’s Division of Emergency Management assigned the task of emergency care for medical special-needs evacuees to Baptist Child & Family Services.  

The San Antonio-based agency will provide and be ready to operate medical special-needs shelters across San Antonio as early as Sunday evening, Aug. 31.  BCFS also will have a task force on standby, ready to bring relief anywhere from Brownsville to Beaumont/Port Arthur.

Medical special-needs shelters temporarily house people who do not fit in the massive general population shelters because they need basic medical attention such as a caregiver, medical support or monitoring, or possess extensive equipment needs.  They also include individuals with an acute illness or considered mentally fragile.

BCFS has responsibility for staffing and managing medical special-needs shelters anytime there is a mass evacuation to San Antonio—an automatic event when a major hurricane hits the Texas coast.  BCFS and its partner churches are prepared to care for up to 5,000 people.

“One of the greatest weaknesses exposed by Hurricane Katrina was the lack of planning and preparedness to care for the very people who are most vulnerable,” said BCFS President Kevin Dinnin.  

“Yet most organizations have been afraid to care for medical special-needs evacuees and turned them away, either out of fear or lack of knowledge.  BCFS was chosen to take on this task due to our past experience in caring for people considered society’s most vulnerable.”

Based on reports by Texas Baptist Communications, Baptist Press and Baptist Child & Family Services

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