Dorian arrives in Carolinas, Baptist volunteers move to respond

By Brandon Elrod

CHARLOTTE—Hurricane Dorian made landfall Friday in northeast North Carolina as a Category 1 storm at Cape Hatteras as first responders in the Bahamas still worked to reach survivors after the storm’s devastating visit to those islands. Southern Baptists are working to serve both fronts.

Send Relief, compassion ministry of the North American Mission Board, sent a truck full of supplies to aid with the Hurricane Dorian response in the Carolinas. North Carolina Baptists unloaded the rolled roofing, flood supplies and some food at their facility in Red Springs, N.C. NAMB photo by Sam Porter.

As the storm traveled up the east coast, flash flooding occurred in some areas, and wind downed trees in the Carolinas. Tornadoes also spun off the storm. Power went down, and the storm claimed at least four lives in the Southeast.

Projections estimate that North Carolina will be the only place the storm makes landfall in the United States, eventually following a track through the Atlantic before reaching eastern Canada.

Meanwhile, search and rescue operations and damage assessments continue in the Bahamas. News reports stated that the death toll rose to 30 with hundreds still missing.

“It’s unprecedented how Hurricane Dorian went over the islands,” said Jeff Palmer, executive director of Baptist Global Response (BGR). “They have hurricanes all the time, but this one was different because of how long the storm sat there.”

On the island of Abaco, the primary concern appears to be issues related to sanitation and shelter, Palmer said. BGR officials have been seeking to help transport food and water to areas of need.

So far, the needs in the Bahamas will center on providing temporary shelter in the short term and aiding in repair and construction over the long term. BGR is working to assess the needs and determine the best ways to respond both through partnerships with the local government and through the network of Baptist churches.

“There are a lot of churches there that we can come alongside and help as they help their countrymen, all for the glory of God,” Palmer said.

In the U.S., SBDR leaders have expressed both their relief that Hurricane Dorian has not created similar havoc in the States along with their resolve to assist survivors who were impacted by the storm.

“Dorian developed into an incredibly strong storm, and we’re thankful that it did not make landfall as a major hurricane,” said Sam Porter, national director for SBDR with the North American Mission Board (NAMB), who traveled to North Carolina to encourage volunteers. “But we are praying for those who were impacted, and volunteer teams are ready to serve as needed once the storm clears out.”

The Carolinas experienced the brunt of Dorian, especially along the shoreline.

“There are some places right along the coastline that were impacted,” said Jack Frazier, an SBDR leader for North Carolina Baptists. “We’ve had several tornadoes hit. There has probably been more significant damage from the tornadoes that spun off, almost more than damage than from the hurricane itself.”

Send Relief, compassion ministry of the North American Mission Board, sent a truck full of supplies to aid with the Hurricane Dorian response in the Carolinas. The Send Relief truck arrived at their facility in Red Springs, N.C., after being loaded at the Send Relief Ministry Center in Ashland, Ky. NAMB photo by Sam Porter.

A Send Relief truck that NAMB dispatched to the area filled with rolled roofing, flood cleanup supplies and some food was unloaded Friday morning at the North Carolina Baptist disaster relief facility in Red Springs, N.C. The proximity to the South Carolina border allows both state teams to access the materials.

Initial indications are that local SBDR teams in North and South Carolina will be able to manage the response without the need to call on out-of-state teams.

As the storm completed its trek over North Carolina’s Outer Banks, the vulnerability of the islands led to heavy damage from the wind and storm surge. Frazier said he will likely need SBDR teams from additional states to help with the recovery.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is among the three largest providers of disaster relief assistance in the United States. Southern Baptist churches, associations and state conventions all partner to mobilize volunteers, resources and equipment to provide services. The North American Mission Board provides national coordination and assistance in larger, multi-state responses.

Brandon Elrod writes for the North American Mission Board.

Published September 6, 2019