Lives ‘forever changed’ as SBTC DR Ida response resumes

GOLDEN MEADOW, La. (BP) – “Blue tarps everywhere. Piles of debris that were once someone’s life. Houses moved off foundations, roofs torn off and laying in yards that are a block away from the original homes. Homes with walls missing, twisted metal that once was a carport or storage shed or someone’s mobile home.”

So wrote Southern Baptists of Texas Disaster Relief volunteer Sue Robinson in late October of the lingering devastation from Hurricane Ida, which made landfall Aug. 29.

Robinson spent five weeks in the Bayou State, arriving in Alexandria with three other SBTC DR volunteers even before Ida struck to help Louisiana Baptist DR establish a statewide response.

After weeks as an incident management team leader in the Alexandria area, Robinson joined relief efforts in Golden Meadow, where teams from Texas and other states conducted feeding and recovery efforts until the end of October, when operations paused for lack of available volunteers various state conventions.

Nov. 7 saw a resumption of that work with Baptist DR recovery teams from the Kansas-Nebraska convention and First Baptist Pflugerville, Texas, arriving, supported by a feeding team from the Pflugerville church. Other DR volunteers on site include a shower/laundry unit manned by volunteers from Calvary Baptist of Beaumont, Texas.

Another SBTC DR recovery crew is scheduled to rotate in Nov. 14 as teams try to complete the remaining 36 job requests from survivors.

The Golden Meadow deployment has been fruitful. Scottie Stice, SBTC DR director, praised not only the volunteer DR crews but also First Baptist Church of Golden Meadow for its outreach to the community.

“The church, under Pastor Matt Chouest, has done a tremendous job of serving the community from the beginning,” Stice said.

A large distribution center located in church facilities served as a clearinghouse for supplies for folks in need who did “drive-thru shopping,” giving their lists to church volunteers. Church members gathered the needed items from the organized stockpile and loaded goods into cars, a system geared for efficiency and to maintain COVID protocols, Stice said. The distribution has been scaled back as needs have decreased.

COVID protocols have been observed during the entire Ida deployment, Stice said, adding that SBTC DR teams had ministered from 17 different locations during the Ida crisis.

The area near Golden Meadow is scenic, despite the reminders of the recent storm. Shrimpers cast their nets along the nearby intercoastal waterway. The beauty is beyond the physical, however, as many in that area of the Bayou State have trusted Christ as Savior or renewed their faith through prayer with Baptist chaplains and DR volunteers.

“There were seven salvations the week I was there,” Stice said.

“Lives are forever changed,” Sue Robinson wrote on social media. Another volunteer, Joe Hartness, wrote on Facebook: “Many unsaved survivors both saw and were told of Jesus’ wonderful grace and mercy, with several accepting him as their Savior and Lord. And isn’t this what we’re about, fellow volunteers? Sharing Christ’s amazing love.”

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