Florida Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are making preparations to respond to the potential impact and damage caused by Hurricane Matthew’s march along Florida’s Atlantic Coast.
Forecasters expect the Category 3 hurricane to strengthen as it moves northward from the Bahamas with potential landfall from North Miami to Jacksonville Thursday night. This will be the first time a major storm has made a direct hit in Florida in more than a decade, when Hurricane Wilma hit in 2005.
On Monday, Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in Florida.
Two Florida Baptist mass feeding units are being staged at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center near Leesburg for rapid response. The Disaster Operation Center at Lake Yale will stage equipment out of the warehouse. Trained mass feeding volunteers are expected to be called out Thursday. FBDR officials have asked Southern Baptist state partners west of Pensacola to be on standby, including Texas, Mississippi and Alabama.
According to Delton Beall, Florida Baptist Disaster Relief director, the state’s Emergency Operations Center estimates the need of more than 300,000 meals daily if the state takes a direct hit.
Florida Baptists are continuing to initiate contact with mission partners in Eastern Cuba and Western Haiti after the storm tore through the nations Tuesday. Reports indicate Western Haiti was devastated by floods and damage.
Craig Culbreth, catalyst for the Convention’s Missions and Ministries Team, reports the mission house of the Confratenite Missionaire de Haiti in Port-au-Prince did not sustain damage. He plans to travel to the nation Saturday.
A team of Florida Baptists are expected to arrive next week in Santiago, Cuba, to repair roofs of churches and other damage.
Florida Baptists had pre-stationed food, water and other resources in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew. Long-term needs assessments will take place in the coming days.
Florida’s 5,000 disaster relief volunteers are trained in mass feeding, emergency response, damage assessment, cleanup and recovery, child care and others areas as needed in a mass disaster response.
To donate to the Florida Baptist Disaster Relief effort mail a check to the Florida Baptist Convention, 1230 Hendricks Ave., Jacksonville, FL 32207. Designate “Florida disaster relief.” To make a donation by credit card, call 800-226-8584, attn. Mike Gilley, ext. 3047, or Flor Ramirez, ext. 3100.
Barbara Denman is director of communications for the Florida Baptist Convention (flbaptist.org).