2020 has been a busy year for Send Relief and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) teams.
Aside from the many coronavirus projects we are implementing to help financially and spiritually restabilize hurting communities, Send Relief and SBDR have been hard at work helping families affected by natural disasters.
With ongoing projects in more than 80 countries, you have helped us bring hope to nearly 1.5 million people around the world this year. Meanwhile in North America, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams have distributed close to 11 million pounds of food and witnessed nearly 1,000 professions of faith.
Here are updates from some response efforts this year:
When Tropical Storm Eta slammed into Nicaragua in early November, 150 mph winds and torrential rainfall caused severe flooding and mudslides throughout the nation. Thousands of people were impacted—most of them from impoverished rural areas. Partnering with local pastors and IMB missionaries, Send Relief has been conducting emergency food distributions to help those most effected. One of our team leaders shared, “The [Nicaraguan] brothers and sisters are very encouraged by our involvement and willingness to help. Our efforts have motivated the local church to give even more to the project and to do their part.”
August brought Hurricane Laura to the shores of Louisiana, tying with another category 4 hurricane as the strongest ever recorded in the state. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief units deployed mud-out teams, chain saw crews and roofing repairmen across east Texas and south Louisiana towns devastated by the storm. Send Relief sent a tractor-trailer packed with food, water, rolled roofing materials, face shields and masks, protective suites and other construction materials needed in the rebuilding efforts. Though the road to recovery has been slow, Send Relief team leaders have seen many volunteers and survivors come to faith and be baptized at relief centers.
In October, Typhoon Molave made landfall in Southeast Asia with the force equivalent to a category 2 hurricane. The most recent in a series of storms to hit the coastline, Molave caused catastrophic flooding and left 12,000 families displaced and without homes to return to. Local Send Relief partners were able to provide food boxes, clothes and flood relief, along with gospel presentations, to over 200 families. Send Relief’s international operations director commented, “In spite of the difficulties created by COVID-19, the relief phase of the work in Vietnam has resulted in people being fed, and things are back to normal in many respects—which is astonishing as this area has been hit repeatedly by cyclones this year.”
The first hurricane to touch Alabama in over a decade, Hurricane Sally caused more than $5 billion of damage in just one week. Tearing across the Panhandle, the storm dumped 30+ inches of rain—a typical four-month total—in Florida. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief conducted search and rescue efforts, while Florida and Alabama Baptists banded together to form cleanup crews and roofing teams for the neighborhoods most impacted. Meanwhile, the gospel was presented to 500 people, and more than 1,500 were given access to showers and free laundry services.
Wreaking havoc with 195 mph winds, Super Typhoon Goni crashed into the Philippines in late October, leaving a trail of death and destruction. Nearly 2 million people were impacted by the storm and subsequent flooding, and at least 10,000 homes were destroyed. Send Relief conducted gospel presentations and food distributions, intentionally caring for the families still in shock at the sudden loss of community and normalcy. Our Asia Rim area director shared, “The work in the Philippines is now about recovery and rehabilitation. Initial needs were met for basics like food, water and temporary shelter. Send Relief is now working with communities through the provision of construction materials to build safe rooms in the bamboo homes that will provide core rooms around which the remaining structure of the house can be built. In areas where the landlord will not allow safe rooms, Send Relief is looking into the possibility of building small community-focused safe centers.”
Send Relief’s ongoing efforts to help villages in South Asia recover from Cyclone Amphan have reached phase two. The first phase helped feed nearly 3,000 flood survivors with non-perishables and dry goods. The second phase will involve repairing structural damage and rebuilding 120 houses that were completely destroyed in the storms’ sudden onslaught. 20,000 people were displaced by Amphan, and Send Relief is partnering with local churches to hold consistent food distributions and deploy emergency evacuation teams as the response unfolds.
These are only a few of the disaster relief efforts you have made possible with your generosity this year. We are so grateful for your ongoing support as communities at home and around the world continue to experience hardship.
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Published November 19, 2020