Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Disaster Relief: Filling the Gaps with Volunteers

A couple of weeks ago, I was out providing disaster assessment (DA) evaluations for the Red Cross in the areas smacked hard by the North Carolina tornadoes. The Red Cross uses the DA evals to estimate the financial needs of the individuals/communities struck by such disasters and, later, will talk with those impacted about getting them some temporary shelter, money for groceries, clothing and bedding (as needed).

Everywhere the DA teams deployed, we saw the yellow shirted members of the NC Baptist Men disaster relief teams deployed, cutting up downed trees, clearing debris, helping with emergency home repairs and through their filed kitchens, providing meals to victims and volunteers.

Here's a nice piece from the Raleigh News & Observer noting this good work, under the headline,
"Tornado victims praise work done by N.C. Baptist Men crews":
It's been nearly a month since the tornadoes hit, and Baptist Men volunteers have provided more than 8,500 volunteer days, completed more than 1,050 jobs and served more than 70,000 meals.

Many volunteers are retired. Others use vacation time. All pay their own travel expenses and a small fee that covers housing, usually in a church, and meals, prepared by other N.C. Baptist Men volunteers.

Dwayne Patterson, neighborhood services supervisor for the city, said the Baptist Men fill a huge gap by doing on private property what the city can't do and insurance won't pay for and residents can't afford.

"And they're so efficient and so effective," Patterson said. "They've been able to get a tremendous amount of cleanup done that would have taken weeks or months."

The work helps the whole community, Patterson said, not just those on whose property the Baptists labor.

You might note in the comments that even these good deeds get challenged by people who either lack faith ("So although I don't believe in the bulk of the religious dogma that these folks do I can certainly appreciate the fine, charitable, humanitarian work they are doing. Its a conundrum that I'm all too aware of. I don't respect their beliefs but some of the good they do, evidenced here certainly gets my attention. That makes me think further that what's the difference what we believe or don't believe? Its the kind of people we are, aside from our beliefs, and what we DO and how we act toward each other that counts the most.") or who feel the NCBM gets too much favorable publicity to the detriment of other groups (". . . there are many individuals and groups that assist in disasters. But, these other groups are just not published about in this highly prejudicial newspaper that slants its articles in favor of the Southern Baptist Convention only.").

I did see other organizations out in the field (Methodist Men, Samaritan's Purse, Salvation Army for example) and know they all made outstanding contributions to helping the victims. I did not see any organization of avowed atheists or agnostics out marshaling their resources to help anyone. Maybe they feel that their tax money is enough. Though members of all the charitable orgs mentioned above also pay taxes.



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