Response teams ready to help


NORTH AND SOUTH CAROLINA (Sept. 16, 1999) -- As thousands of people emerge from shelters to face flood damage -- or total loss of their homes -- national response teams will be ready to meet their needs.

With trained personnel from caseworkers to damage assessment teams, and specialized equipment such as mobile kitchens, faith-based response groups will dispatch wherever the largest needs emerge, likely in the Carolinas where Hurricane Floyd dumped 19 inches of rain last night that caused severe flooding.

As roads slowly reopen and assessments from the Carolinas roll in, the Southern Baptist Convention has 18 mobile kitchen units on standby and four staged and ready to move in Atlanta, said Mickey Caison, adult volunteer mobilization associate for the North American Mission Board (SBC).

No feeding units were needed in Georgia or Florida, but as Floyd continues to move north, dropping more rain, the organization is ready to expand operations throughout the northeast if necessary. With 68 kitchens nationwide, Caison said that SBC has the resources to provide a wide-ranging relief effort. Last year during Hurricane

Georges, SBC operated mobile feeding units from the Florida Keys to New Orleans.

"We have manpower and resources from all over the United States, and we're ready to pull those in," he said.

Most faith-based response teams coordinate carefully with emergency management officials. Already, North Carolina Emergency Management officials have asked Adventist Community Services (ACS) to manage a warehouse in Greenville that will receive undesignated donated items, said Larry Buckner, ACS disaster

response coordinator. The organization has an agreement with the state to handle such duties during disasters.

"We receive those goods, get them processed and ready for distribution and then send them out to various distribution centers," he explained.

ACS relief teams are also on standby in the Carolinas and in all northeastern states, Buckner added.

Tom Hazelwood, disaster response network manager for the United Methodist Committee on Relief, spent much of Thursday morning contacting conference disaster response personnel, readying the organization's catastrophic response team.

Similarly, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) has its disaster response team ready to swing into action. Stan Hankins, PDA's associate for disaster response, said volunteer work teams also may be organized if repairs or rebuilding is required.

"We'll be checking with our presbyteries just as soon as possible and seeing what assistance we can provide," he said. The church also issued an appeal for the 1999 hurricane season to seek funding for survivors.

Virginia residents took to shelters, and street flooding already is occurring in Norfolk and other coastal communities, said Fred Reed, a Church World Service disaster resource consultant based in Virginia. Some parts of

the state are without power, he added, and the combination of rain and storm surge could cause flooding and beach erosion.

Damage was minimal early Thursday, but Reed noted that Floyd's eye had yet to pass through the state.

Further north, officials closed schools and urged residents to leave coastal areas as Floyd is expected to bring at least tropical storm force winds and rain up to Maine.

Floyd came ashore early Thursday with less force than expected, but the enormous storm could bring torrential rains in the northeast through the weekend. Widespread flooding is reported throughout the coastal Carolinas,

where up to 19 inches of rain fell. Parts of eastern Virginia already received several inches of rain by mid-day.

For the hurricane-weary coast, there is some hope. Hurricane Gert, already a category four hurricane, is projected to turn north and stay over open waters.

Posted Sept. 16, 1999

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