Alabama Baptists assist with cleanup following Isaaccomment (0)
September 6, 2012
By Jennifer Davis Rash
Hurricane Isaac gave Alabama Baptist disaster relief officials their first real test-run in the ministry’s updated preparation and communication system since the state was stunned by the devastating tornadoes of April 2011.
“This was an excellent opportunity for Alabama disaster relief to exercise the initial coordination for a hurricane event,” said Mel Johnson, disaster relief strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.
Heading into the week of Isaac’s landfall, then-Tropical Storm Isaac flirted with the Alabama coastline and threatened, at least by some meteorological models, to barrel straight up the state. On Aug. 26, Gov. Robert Bentley declared a state of emergency and ordered mandatory evacuations along the state’s coastal area. Johnson also moved into high gear that day, alerting all disaster relief team leaders to start preparing for the what-if.
As each 24 hours passed, Isaac shifted farther and farther west, finally making landfall just before 7 a.m. Aug. 29 near the mouth of the Mississippi River in southeastern Louisiana as a Category 1 hurricane.
While not as intense as it could have been, the storm did impact the coastal areas of the state in Mobile County.
Johnson worked with Thomas Wright, executive director of missions for Mobile Baptist Association, to provide chainsaw teams at Camp Whispering Pines in Citronelle to assist with downed trees.
Johnson also offered assistance to Mississippi and Louisiana in the cleanup efforts happening there.
Three disaster relief teams — cleanup and recovery teams from Calhoun and Cleburne associations and a heavy equipment team out of Tallassee — left early Aug. 31 for New Orleans Seminary to help remove trees from campus and assist in the area.
Two feeding unit teams also were on standby at press time for potential deployment.
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