Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Prepares Response as Tropical Storm Barry Heads Toward Gulf Coast

South Florida Sun Sentinel screen capture

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is preparing an initial response if the tropical system currently in the Gulf of Mexico develops into Hurricane Barry overnight on Friday (July 12), but floodwaters already have started to rise in New Orleans.

“The water is almost as high as it can get within its banks at various points along the Mississippi River, and now they’re waiting to get 15 more inches of rain,” said Sam Porter, national SBDR director at the North American Mission Board.

Over the last several months, SBDR teams have been responding to flooding in the Midwest and the South. Much of that water has flowed south along the Mississippi River, causing the river to be above flood stage ahead of the incoming storm.

Meteorologists warn that the danger will be the potential of rain and storm surge combining to cause the river to hit maximum flood stage, which would overwhelm levees protecting New Orleans and lower Louisiana.

“It’s like the perfect storm that’s about to have its crescendo moment this weekend,” Porter said. “With the intense flooding north of Louisiana, we’ve had our eyes on how that flooding would eventually affect the state and New Orleans in particular.”

The storm has been slowly creeping toward land in recent days and is expected to make landfall Saturday on the Louisiana coastline, causing flooding into Mississippi as the storm drops rain on its journey inland.

SBDR leadership has begun putting together an initial response plan in case the worst-case scenario plays out, and Porter expects volunteers to step up despite a busy year in disaster relief.

“Even though they have been stretched up to exhaustion,” Porter said of SBDR volunteers, “God always seems to make a way to rally this amazing volunteer organization to become the hands and feet of our Lord to assist others who cannot help themselves.”

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Source: Baptist Press