CBF mobilizing teams for Isaac relief
Thousands of flooding victims in LaPlace, La. continue to struggle without power, food and safe housing following Hurricane Isaac that hit the city and state Aug. 28.
By Jeff Brumley
Those calls have already been answered by debris and muck removal teams from nine CBF churches in seven Southeastern states. They are scheduled for roughly one-week stays through March in LaPlace, La., one of the hardest-hit areas when Isaac made landfall Aug. 28.
Reid Doster, coordinator of CBF Louisiana, said he’s satisfied with the response and believes the process will pick up steam as word spreads from CBF and different state organizations.
The donations are coming more slowly, which is no surprise according to CBF Disaster Response Coordinator Charles Ray.
“We are never set financially,” Ray said of disaster-response work. “What we generally see is that as responders start coming, others start to say ‘ok, it’s time for me to help’” with donations.
Another challenge is how little attention Isaac received from the media and government, said David Vitrano, general manager and managing editor of L’Observateur, the local newspaper in LaPlace.
“It was overlooked almost from the beginning, even locally,” Vitrano said. “No mandatory evacuations were ordered.”
LaPlace is an industrial town of about 20,000 located 30 miles west of New Orleans, and parts of it escaped unscathed, Vitrano said.
“Some places are untouched while the flooding in some places is as bad as (Hurricane) Katrina,” Vitrano said.
But there’s also a high level of storm exhaustion in American society that helped Isaac escape national notice, Ray said. In just the past few years a stampede of hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes have demanded Americans’ attention – and money.
“How many Katrinas can we absorb emotionally and say, ‘Oh, those poor people, I have to do something?’” he asked.
‘A blessing to go’
But some are ready to absorb more, said Roger Hensley, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Jonesville, N.C. Hensley will be leading a group of 10-15 from his church in October to assist flooding victims by clearing out muck and debris and any other way they can.
First Baptist Jonesville has responded to previous calls as well and has actually found disaster relief to be one way to live out its calling, Hensley said.
“There wouldn’t be much to our Christian faith if we couldn’t help those who are less fortunate than we are,” Hensley said. “It’s a blessing to be able to go and do.”
Missional disaster response
Visiting teams will be provided with 24-hour security, lodging and showers and three meals a day for just $10 a day, Doster said.
All levels of disaster-relief experience – from none to expert – are needed, he added. And they aren’t expected to solve all of LaPlace’s problems.
That leaves CBF teams free to focus exclusively on cleanup and repairs. CBF crews will also target homeowners who were uninsured, Doster said. He added that the effort, while taking time to launch, is in keeping with CBF’s style of approaching disaster relief as a ministry.
“Our strength is in our people,” he said. “It’s about being missional rather than doing missions.”
© 2013 Associated Baptist Press, Inc.