ROCKINGHAM – As hurricane season rages on and millions of people across the country have been affected, most recently along the southeast Texas coast, there is a need to assist those families and communities. And members of the First Baptist Church of Rockingham are answering the call.
FBC will be loading up and shipping out on a mission trip to the Houston area to help aid victims of Hurricane Harvey Monday, Sept. 11, 2017.
Under the direction of the North Carolina Baptist Men, Dennis Holloway, who is the Pee Dee Baptist Disaster Relief Coordinator, will be leading a group of local community members on a recovery and disaster relief trip to Beaumont, Texas, which was submerged under flood waters in the wake of Harvey.
The relief group will be taking ready-to-eat feeding units, which are able to feed 60,000 people a day. They’ll also have “swift water rescue units” going along, which will search the area for missing and trapped people once they arrive. There will also be laundry units, shower units and baby care units as well.
Holloway says that his group will stay for nine days, and that there are other groups that will rotate in to offer a break. There are approximately 25-30 units from North Carolina currently or expected to provide services to Harvey victims.
While the Baptist Men are present in 25 states, Holloway mentions the North Carolina Baptist Men with high regard.
“The local Baptist Men are probably one of the highly recognized groups because we go everywhere there is a disaster,” Holloway says.
Hurricane Harvey may be considered the worst disaster to date, according to Accuweather.com, with property damage cost estimated at $190 billion, exceeding that caused by Hurricane Katrina (2005) and Hurricane Matthew (2016).
Harvey has left millions of people displaced in the Houston metropolitan area, most of which will be uninhabitable for weeks or even months due to the water damage its lasting effects.
“A vast majority of people (in Texas) don’t have flood insurance and they are on their own,” Holloway said, expressing his personal fears for the victims. “They can apply to FEMA for some help, but it won’t be much.
“It seems like most times in these types of disasters, the folks who can least afford to lose their belongings, are the ones who do.”
According to Holloway, The Baptist Men is the third largest disaster relief organization in the United States, right behind the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
“We are on site sooner than anybody else is,” Holloway acknowledged. “The other units do not have the manpower that the Baptist Men do. FEMA provides the material, and the Baptist Men provide the labor.”
The Baptist Men are highly organized and provide extensive training to its relief workers. Supervisors have to be updated every two years with their securities and the regular workers every three.
“We want everything to be by the book,” Holloway said. “We don’t want the chance of someone doing this work that’s not supposed to be there.”
The Baptist Men is an all-volunteer organization, and the average age of volunteers is 65, with nearly 40 percent being women.
Holloway encourages anyone to go out and join with any organization to volunteer and help in disaster relief any way that they can because the need is great.
Turning 72 while he is doing his relief work in Texas, Holloway adds, “What better way to celebrate my birthday than by helping someone else?”
If you are interested in helping with relief work in Hurricane Harvey, you can go to the Pee Dee Baptist Association at 1219 Rockingham Road, Rockingham, or call (910) 895-5282.