From Nov. 2 through 6, a team of eight Bradley Baptist volunteers joined 84 other Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers in Fort Dix, N.J., along with a full portable field kitchen.
Many of the volunteers have adjusted their schedule or taken vacation time to make the trip. Although not deployed to the damage site because of logistic problems, they remained available for several days before returning home.
On Nov. 10, the Bradley Baptist Association Disaster shower/laundry trailer was dispatched to Long Island, N.Y.
The team was led by Jim Polier, Bradley County Long Term Recovery director, and was accompanied by Wayne Morrison and Wayne and Linda Finnell.
They traveled to Fairfax, Long Island, N.Y., to provide showers and laundry assistance to survivors and disaster recovery crews.
At Fairfax, the team met with other Southern Baptist Disaster Teams from Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, New York, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Canada and 19 other states.
The initial BBA team served until Nov. 18. A second BBA team comprised of Jim and Betty Sneed and John Davis served through Thanksgiving week at the Transfiguration Episcopal Church in Fairfax.
A third BBA team is tentatively set to travel to New York this week.
Southern Baptist volunteers will continue to travel and serve as long as needed. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams are not paid.
The team members pay for their own meals while traveling.
When they set up at a disaster site, they sleep on cots, sofas or the floor on an air mattress.
The equipment, shower/laundry, chainsaw and portable field kitchens are provided by and paid for by Southern Baptist Associations through donations from local churches. Southern Baptist Association or volunteers do not solicit donations.
The Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Organization through the North American Missions Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, has National contracts with the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army to prepare the food distributed by these organizations.
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is the third largest disaster relief organization after The American Red Cross and Salvation Army.
The Baptist volunteers prepare the food and place it in containers which are carried by the American Red Cross and served to disaster survivors.
To date the SBDR volunteers have served 670,000 meals. So far 82,000 trained SBDR volunteers and 1,550 mobile units consisting of mass feeding, chainsaw, command, communications, child care, laundry, showers, water purification repair/rebuild and power generation have been deployed to assist the survivors of Hurricane Sandy.
While power has been restored to the majority of homes, many residents are still without heat or hot water as their heating units and water heaters have been contaminated by sea water.
“Scammers” are alive and well in the damage area.
One elderly lady who has had both shoulders replaced and was being helped by SBDR volunteers, was approached with a bid of $42,000 to do the same work the SBDR volunteers were doing for free, according to Polier. SBDR does not charge anything for their work.
Tennesseans should be proud of the contribution Tennessee SBDR volunteers have and will make toward the recovery from Hurricane Sandy.
Polier said BBA is still in need of volunteers.
“The survivors of Hurricane Sandy are still in need of help and will be for some time. They need help in rebuilding their lives and their homes,” Polier said.
For training and volunteering for the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, call 476-5493.