Baptist volunteers serve meals, clear yards, share the gospel

By Brandon Elrod

(Columbia, S.C.)—Two weeks ago, on Sept. 14, Hurricane Florence made landfall on the East Coast. There are still areas, especially in South Carolina, that are still under water. Southern Baptists Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers and leaders have been tirelessly working to help storm survivors recover.

Several flooded rivers in South Carolina were expected to crest yesterday (Sept. 26), and as the waters started to recede, volunteers discovered a pressing need to provide temporary roofing for homeowners.

In South Carolina, there are several roads that look just like this one. Several rivers were not expected to crest until Wednesday (Sept. 26), two weeks after Hurricane Florence made landfall. Photo by Brandon Elrod.

“We’ve had virtually no rain since the storm, but we have some rain in the forecast,” said South Carolina’s disaster relief director, Randy Creamer. “So, it’s really significant to get roofs covered before the rains return and cause a whole lot more damage.”

SBDR teams from South Carolina and Georgia have been using temporary roofing supplies sent over by Send Relief, the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) compassion ministry arm. Send Relief stowed the roofing and other flood recovery supplies in Red Springs, N.C. where they could be readily accessed by SBDR volunteers in North and South Carolina.

Send Relief also sent pastor packs to state convention SBDR leaders so that they could distribute them to pastors and churches. In turn, they’re able to serve their communities.

“The guys look at the pastor packs and their mouths drop open when we tell them that they’re for them and for their personal ministry to their communities,” Creamer said. “It’s like Christmas in September. It lets them know that somebody cares and that they’re going to get through this.”

As Creamer described the feeding and recovery efforts in South Carolina, he lauded the efforts of the local Associational Missions Strategists, saying that they have been pivotal to his team’s ministry to local communities.

“They’re our right-hand guys in disaster relief,” he said. “They are seizing opportunities to minister in communities by” helping their churches and pastors meet needs.

“The grey skies have brought opportunities to minister that blue skies don’t,” Creamer said.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers from across the United States have converged on North and South Carolina in the weeks following Hurricane Florence. Two weeks after the storm, several areas are still experiencing flooding. So, the majority of SBDR’s work has focused on providing meals, but flood and storm recovery efforts are underway and will soon become the main focus. Photo by Adam Dukes.

In North Carolina, Richard Brunson, the director for North Carolina Baptists on Mission (NCBM), stated that more flood and storm recovery opportunities were beginning to open up.

“Our volunteers are seeing a lot of needs and getting a lot of requests for mud-out, tear-out and chainsaw jobs,” Brunson said. “Some places are getting hundreds of requests.”

According to Brunson, several thousand volunteers were working yesterday (Sept. 26) out of around 20 different locations: serving meals, distributing crisis buckets, cleaning up yards and beginning flood clean up.

“The assistance that other disaster relief teams brought in from other states has been humbling, overwhelming and very encouraging,” said Brunson.

As of September 26, SBDR teams in North and South Carolina reported serving more than 730,000 meals, distributing over 1,200 crisis buckets, cleaning up over 500 yards and providing temporary roofing for more than 100 homes.

So far, SBDR volunteers have reported 400 gospel presentations, with 68 professions of faith. As volunteers continue assisting homeowners repair their homes, SBDR will not only make a temporal impact but an eternal one as well.

To donate funds and inquire about volunteer opportunities, visit

Brandon Elrod writes for the North American Mission Board.

Published September 27, 2018