By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent
LEONARDTOWN, Md.—House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer visited Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers serving in areas devastated by Hurricane Irene.
“In the past several weeks, Maryland’s 5th district has experienced tremendous damage as a result of extreme weather conditions,” Hoyer, the second-ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, said in a statement Sept. 8. “This week’s storms added an additional burden to those already impacted by Hurricane Irene and created new challenges that we must deal with in the days ahead.”
Hoyer, who lives in Charlotte Hall, Md., added, “As I visited affected communities over the last week, I saw the overwhelming support of neighbors helping neighbors and know that spirit will continue as all of us at the local, state and federal level work to ensure that residents and businesses have the resources they need to address challenges in the wake of these storms.”
Richard Logsdon, director of missions for the Potomac Association in Maryland, said Hoyer greeted relief volunteers and community members warmly.
“Basically, he thanked us for what we were doing,” said Logsdon, who has been working closely with disaster relief efforts in the area.
Nineteen trees fell in Hoyer’s own yard, Logsdon said, but neighbors assisted the congressman without help from disaster relief teams.
Teams from Tennessee, Kentucky and South Carolina, along with volunteers from the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, “have been well organized and a great blessing,” Logsdon said.
As of Sept. 8, the teams had responded to more than 80 requests for help and had nearly 160 requests remaining.
“Some people still have trees on the roofs with holes that need to be fixed along with a vast number of homes with trees on the ground,” Logsdon said.
In addition to meeting physical needs, Southern Baptists are helping area residents emotionally and spiritually.
“Among those were a whole family of three who committed their lives to Christ,” Logsdon said. “The homes I have been at, the families are so grateful we are there. In most cases, they had nowhere else to turn for help. There will be a great opportunity to minister to these families well after the relief work is completed.”
Steve Fehrman, pastor of Southern Calvert Church in Lusby, Md., lives in Chesapeake Ranch Estates where several hundred homes were damaged by fallen trees. Though he only had electric wires stripped from his house, his neighbor across the street had a tree fall on his deck. And as he attempted to leave for a safer shelter, another tree fell on his car.
“He thought his world was about to end,” Fehrman said, noting that though the storm did a lot of damage, there was a positive: neighbors were meeting each other.
“The day after the hurricane, my wife came home from work and saw all of us neighbors talking in the yard,” he said, explaining that she thought something was wrong.
“The storm actually brought us all together for the first time,” he said, adding that he had been in the neighborhood for four years, but hadn’t had any open doors to reach out to his neighbors.
“It was a great opportunity to witness,” he said, adding, “The biggest blessing was to have our Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers helping out.”
SBDR assets encompass 82,000 trained volunteers, including chaplains, and some 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, child care, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the largest mobilizers of trained, credentialed disaster relief volunteers in the United States.
Want to help?
Southern Baptists and others who want to donate to NAMB’s disaster relief fund can contact the Baptist Covention of Maryland/Delaware or go to www.namb.net/disaster-relief-donations and hit the “donate” button.
Other ways to donate are to call 1-866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543.
Donations can also be sent via texting “NAMBDR” to the number “40579.” A one-time donation of $10 will be added to the caller’s mobile phone bill or deducted from any repaid balance.
For those interested in becoming a disaster relief volunteer, visit online at https://bcmd.org/dr-fall-regional-training.