The SBC of Virginia Disaster Relief (DR) Ministry began in November 2002 with one shower unit, which was built by Georgia Baptist Men.
We were deployed for the first time in May of 2003 to Indiana and Ohio to help after flooding.
During Hurricane Isabel in 2003, our shower unit was set up to support the general public in Gloucester County, VA, providing an average of 380 showers per day. We purchased our first two recovery units and conducted recovery operations in Gloucester and Williamsburg, VA.
We had 8 recovery units (5 owned by churches and 3 owned by SBCV), 1 shower unit, and 508 volunteers in our program, and we began planning and developing a new feeding unit.
We responded to New England, New York, and Virginia for snow, ice, and windstorms.
This was a pivotal year for the SBCV DR Ministry. We began building our first feeding unit and added 2 more recovery units. We completed our feeding unit on August 31, and on September 1, we were deployed to Prentiss, MS after Hurricane Katrina.
The first weekend in Prentiss, our team led 12 people to a saving relationship with Jesus! In addition to serving in Prentiss, we had the opportunity to serve in Gulfport, MS; LaPlace, LA; and Key West, FL. We came home 71 days, 4 feeding sites, and 464,313 meals later!
SBCV DR had grown to 2,000 trained volunteers. We had the opportunity to send 2 teams to Billerica, MA to support flood recovery.
We added 2 more feeding units, 1 command/communication unit, 2 bunk houses, 1 water closet unit (containing 3 complete bathrooms with heat and A/C), and 2 generator units (1 diesel and 1 propane).
We had our first international response, deploying to Greece after wildfires.
Flood recovery teams went to Ohio, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Virginia.
Hurricane Ike struck Texas, and SBCV DR responded to Galveston with feeding teams.
Springtime brought ice storms to Kentucky, and SBCV chainsaw teams responded.
Later that year, recovery teams helped after floods in Iowa, West Virginia, Georgia, Virginia, and New England.
Along with sending flood recovery teams to Georgia and New England, we were once again called to respond to international disasters—American Samoa after a tsunami and Haiti after an earthquake.
Following major flooding up and down the East Coast as a result of Hurricane Irene, SBCV DR sent teams within Virginia and to New York and Vermont.
After Hurricane Lee struck the East Coast again, were we able to partner with Liberty University (LU) for a first-time collegiate partnership and mobilize over 300 LU students with SBCV DR to Binghamton, NY.
We responded multiple times: Derecho—Central Virginia; Hurricane Isaac—Louisiana; and Hurricane Sandy—New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Continued response to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy
Snowstorms across Southeast Virginia provided opportunities for DR teams to help. Teams also assisted after tornados in South Carolina.
Floods in the Southeast led SBCV teams to South Carolina. Churches across the Commonwealth responded by collecting hundreds of flood buckets that were sent to those impacted in Louisiana.
Historic tornados ripped across Virginia, and SBCV DR teams responded to Waverly, Appomattox, and Tappahannock.
Teams went to North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Southeast Virginia after hurricanes, floods, tornados, and wildfires.
We also acquired a warehouse for DR equipment that year.
We celebrate our 15th year of Disaster Relief Ministry.
We began using online training and developed new training. We began strategic planning to move forward in the next five years of ministry.
Teams responded for flood recovery in Illinois and to Texas after Hurricane Harvey, Florida after Hurricane Irma, and Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
By Mark Gauthier
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