From Nadine Burton, Interim Regional Minister:
Greetings Great River Region: We are up to 28 families who have been displaced. FCC Baton Rouge is in need of air mattresses, pillows, blankets, and linen. These items will help with immediate needs throughout the end of the month. Once the families get back into their homes, they will not be able to use the beds. They can use these items now in the shelters and when they go back to their homes. You can mail these items directly to the FCC Baton Rouge: 8484 Old Hammond Highway, Baton Rouge, LA 70809.
I am heading to Baton Rouge on Saturday after preaching at a revival at Indianola CC in Mississippi. If you are in the central Arkansas area and can drop some items by the Regional Office by 10 am on Thursday morning, I will deliver them to Baton Rouge. Please call the GRR Regional Office at 501-562-5063 so we know you're coming!
For those reading this update out of town, many families are pulling up carpets and drywall at this time. If you'd like to volunteer to help, you could quickly find any number of people who would appreciate your help in this important, and terrible, task. However, as our facilities and most hotel rooms are already occupied, volunteers would need to be relatively self-sufficient, coming in either an RV or camper or otherwise securing lodging ahead of time.
RED CROSS WORKERS NOW BEING HOUSED AT FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH
Red Cross volunteers dropped off cots and blankets, and out of town volunteers have begun to arrive on our campus just this evening. So far I've met volunteers from North Carolina, Wisconsin and South Dakota. When I checked this evening it looked like about 20 or so we spending the night in our make-shift shelter. Volunteers from First Christian and St. Paul Lutheran have done an excellent job converting the Fellowship Hall into a welcoming space (see the picture above).
Many have asked about what donated items would be helpful. Since our stores are open and being replenished, small items like toiletries are not in demand--we can easily buy those. Shelters have enough clothing and food. I've thought about this and spoken with others, and think that donations of pillows, airbeds and sheets would be an excellent choice. These could be used immediately in the shelters, and as people return home and have to throw out furniture ruined by water, an airbed would be very helpful to have while awaiting replacement furnishings. Additionally, these will likely be in short supply in our local stores. If you would like to donate these items, they can be shipped to the church and we can distribute them through the church or send them on to the Red Cross to be distributed to the community.
LIFE IS FRAGILE, GOD IS FAITHFUL
As I've spoken with friends and members and survivors over the past few days, time and again I've heard stories of how quickly the waters rose. In houses that seemed secure at sunset, the knock on the door in the middle of the night, or waking up to find water already in the house, were frightening reminders of how quickly life's circumstances change and how fragile life is. In the midst of these storms that have tossed our city again and again and again, we can be sure that God walks with us, even through the darkest of valleys.
May God's grace and generosity be seen in our lives!
From Week of Compassion
According to Rev. David Chisham, pastor of FCCBR, no in-kind donations are needed at this moment. Instead, we encourage financial gifts, which can be used to meet immediate needs as they arise. As the church prepares to be a host site in partnership with the Red Cross, they are organizing volunteers for food prep, janitorial support, and laundry service.
Week of Compassion has been in regular contact with Rev. Chisham and Regional Minister, Rev. Nadine Burton. We have provided a grant to help meet the immediate needs of evacuees and will offer additional support as the extent of the damage becomes clear. Rev. Chisham told Week of Compassion Associate Director, Rev. Caroline Hamilton-Arnold: "The numbers of those affected continues to rise as the mass of water moves south. Houses that were dry one day are full of water the next. We look forward to supporting our greater community, and God has been faithful in providing resources for us to respond to the need."
Additionally, with support from Week of Compassion, Children’s Disaster Services is deploying two teams of specialists to Baton Rouge. CDS associate director Kathy Fry-Miller reports: "They will be able to care for evacuated children in two shelters.”
To support flood relief in Louisiana, donate online by clicking here and designate your gift for US Storms and Fires.
Mission First! addresses the need to find a new shared focus in mission and seeks to help Disciples identify the next mission priorities God has for us as we move toward the year 2020 and beyond.
We are still looking for volunteers to work with the Mission First Initiative. If you are interested in serving as a host church, please contact the Regional Office.