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Various weather events keep Southern Baptist disaster relief crews busy


ALPHARETTA (BP) — The deadly tornado that leveled Greensburg, Kan. The forest fires in Florida and Georgia. Serious flooding in New England and New Jersey. Weary Southern Baptist disaster relief volunteers all over the United States have been working overtime.

Three weeks after an F-5 tornado killed 12 and obliterated tiny Greensburg, Kan., Southern Baptist disaster relief workers remained on the scene, feeding uprooted townspeople and relief volunteers who had been there since May 5.

About 95 percent of the rural town of 1,500 lost their homes, businesses, and earthly possessions. If they worked in a bank, office, or store on Main Street, they also lost their jobs – because there no longer is a Main Street in Greensburg.

New England Baptists were called into “mud-out” action recently in the wake of serious area flooding, according to Bruce James, director of evangelism and men’s ministry for the Baptist Convention of New England.

James said his 20-person team has completed 28 mud-out jobs in New Hampshire and has 18 more to do there, and another 24 jobs in southern Maine.

Fritz Wilson, state director of disaster relief for the Florida Baptist Convention in fire-ravaged Florida, said local churches in the fire-affected areas – with support from the state convention – have carried most of the load to support some 350 firefighters and other public safety personnel working to control the forest fires near Keystone Heights. That support has included food, shelter, and staging facilities.

In all, more than 183,000 acres have burned in more than 225 fires throughout Florida, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The fires have affected 57 of Florida’s 67 counties.