Responding to devastating snow storms from Texas to Appalachia

By Natalie Sarrett

Following disastrous winter storms that crippled a large swath of the country with snow and ice, Southern Baptists are helping people from Texas to Appalachia who were impacted by the freezing weather.

In Texas, where more than four million residents lost power and many had no water because of frozen and burst pipes, Send Relief partnered with Feeding America, Southern Baptist of Texas Convention (SBTC) Disaster Relief and Texas Baptist Men to help meet immediate needs.

Food shortages became a serious issue for many people in need. Send Relief provided financial help to Feeding America food banks across the Texas so they could resupply and avoid a larger food crisis.

“The help that Send Relief has provided through the food bank donations is assisting people across the most affected cities—it’s way more than a drop in the bucket,” said David Wells of Texas Baptist Men. “All three of our major cities—Dallas, San Antonio and Houston—have people in them who have never even seen snow before, and they’re depending on us and these food banks for help.”

 

In McKinney, Texas, where workers at a nursing home reached out to SBTC for emergency food rations, Director of Disaster Relief Scottie Stice was able to mobilize a food truck team to provide meals to residents and caretakers. Following this project, the city of McKinney also asked for them to serve first responders.

“They were so busy responding that they had skipped or were unable to obtain meals,” said Stice. “We appreciate the partnership with Send Relief and all our fellow state coordinators who have reached out to offer support and prayer—it is an incredibly difficult situation, and we would not be able to do this without you.”

 

Two states away in Ashland, Kentucky, our ministry center director, Rob Allen, has been conducting his own relief efforts combatting the effects of winter storms Uri and Viola.

“I’m thankful Send Relief and state conventions were able to play a role in this, but the heroes are these local churches really stepping up to help their own communities. The ability to do a lot from a distance was complicated, so churches in close proximity carried the burden of helping for the first several days of this crisis. Pastors who are helping their congregants are often in the exact same situation, but they are finding it in themselves to still serve,” Allen shared.

Indeed, the churches of Appalachia have been advocating and interceding for their communities since day one of the storms. Though 95% one church’s congregants were left without power or heat, they took turns moving through their neighborhoods in teams, providing generators and warming individual houses back up before moving on to the next. Another church has transformed its sanctuary into a giant warming center for the families most impacted and is using four-wheelers to deliver fuel to those stuck in remote locations. Yet another congregation was able to use a member’s furniture truck to pick up Send Relief’s generators, bottled water and food to distribute to their neighbors.

Send Relief has also been able to distribute generators, along with ready-made meals and clean water, to communities who have experienced a total loss of power and heat in the past week.

In one Kentucky community that was hit particularly hard, over 180 power poles were destroyed, with a record-breaking 900 trees blocking major roadways and many falling directly on houses. Moving forward, Allen estimates that mud-out and flood relief efforts will be long-lasting needs stretching out into the summer months, with more urgent needs arising as the ice continues to melt.

Pray for our Appalachia ministry center, SBTC Disaster Relief and Texas Baptist Men as they navigate the difficult logistics of delivering supplies amid the storm and pray for emergency response teams as they attempt to help families rebuild and recover. If you would like to give to ongoing winter storm disaster relief efforts, donate below.

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Published February 19, 2021

Natalie Sarrett

Natalie Sarrett is a staff writer for Send Relief.