The Disaster Relief Office strives to train leaders, develop new teams, and lead in Christian discipleship and evangelism in the area of Disaster Relief as SC Baptists bring help, healing, and hope during local, state, national, and international disasters.

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Disaster Relief Units in South Carolina

Chaplaincy

These are volunteers trained to help crisis survivors gain a measure of cognitive control after a disaster. Through compassionate hearts, listening ears, and encouraging words, chaplains bring the presence of the Holy Spirit to those in need, encouraging resiliency and introducing them to Jesus Christ. Every type of Disaster Relief unit is encouraged to have a chaplain as a part of their team, and at times there is the need for actual teams of chaplains to respond to a disaster.

Children's Response

These units provide a safe and caring place for children (birth – age 7) to receive care and attention while their parents are dealing with the aftermath of a disaster. Children’s Response Teams focus on helping children to begin moving toward recovery from the trauma of the disaster event.

South Carolina has two Children’s Response units, each equipped with furnishings, supplies, and materials to set up a temporary child care center in or near a disaster area.

C.O.P.E. (Christian Outreach to People Evacuated)

These units provide children and their families a temporary reprieve from dealing with the aftermath of a disaster. Volunteers set up “block party”-type fun activities as well as popcorn, cotton candy, and snow cone machines. People who have been forced to stay away from their homes in shelters or other situations can have a fun time and also have opportunities to talk about their experience in the disaster event, an important step in the healing process.

Communications

These units provide two-way messaging when phone systems are down after a disaster. Volunteers, leaders, and those related to the volunteers back home need a link to the response effort at all times. The units are prepared to use radio systems to provide voice communications, as well as Internet communications via satellite. South Carolina has two Communications units.

Incident Command

South Carolina has one mobile command post unit which can be set up on site in a disaster area to coordinate the work of the various units and teams that respond to the disaster. An offsite command post is also maintained at the South Carolina Baptist Convention Building in Columbia during any active disaster responses involving teams from our state.

International (Baptist Global Response)

This is not a physical unit, but rather teams of volunteers who provide Disaster Relief ministry in other nations. A higher level of training is required of volunteers who wish to serve internationally, and the time frame of a deployment is longer due to the extended travel required to reach the site.

Mass Feeding

The purpose of these units, obviously, is to prepare and serve food at a disaster site. Emphasis is given to cleanliness and safe food handling practices. Depending on the disaster response situation, meals may be served for area residents who do not have electricity to be able to cook at home, for shelter residents, and/or for Disaster Relief teams that are working in the area.

South Carolina has five Mass Feeding units and numerous support/back-up teams.

Medical

Medical teams consist of health professionals of all types, as well as non-medical support personnel, in order to provide medical care for disaster victims and for DR personnel. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, allied health professionals, mental health and paramedical personnel are needed. Medical teams provide mental, physical, and spiritual care.

South Carolina has one Medical unit.

Sheltering

This is not a physical unit, but rather teams of volunteers. Sheltering teams open and maintain a shelter for displaced or evacuated families in times of disaster. Often sheltering teams work alongside the Red Cross in offering this ministry. These are usually short-term deployments, but provide a vital service for people who cannot stay in their homes during or after a disaster event.

Shower/Laundry

Shower units provide clean showers for the victims of a disaster and/or for DR volunteers working in the disaster response. The mobile trailers include individual shower stalls with dressing areas, as well as water heaters, towels, and supplies of soaps, shampoos, etc.

Laundry units are equipped with washers and dryers, so that volunteers can clean the clothes of disaster victims as well as those of DR volunteers working in the disaster area. Although they may be separate units, often laundry units are combined with shower units.

This ministry is ideal for couples wanting less stressful ways to assist in a disaster response.

Fire Recovery (Ash-Out)

These units assist homeowners after a fire by removing ash and debris. An important part of this work is sifting through the ashes to look for personal belongings of the fire victims. As with flood recovery (mud-out), ash-out work provides great opportunities to relate one-on-one with disaster survivors.

Assessment

Assessors are on the ground shortly after a disaster to assess the damage from hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms and floods. They are trained to use forms developed by disaster responders to provide information and prioritize jobs for recovery teams. Assessors often are the first point of contact to connect homeowners in need with the volunteers of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief who can help to meet their needs physically and spiritually.

Chainsaw

Chainsaw units are a type of recovery team that responds quickly during a time of disaster, removing trees, limbs, and brush from driveways, roofs, and yards. Safety is of utmost importance when working on this unit. Teams include those who know how to use chainsaws and also those who can serve as “brush-pullers” to pick up and pile the cut debris.

South Carolina has more chainsaw units than any other type of unit.

Flood Recovery (Mud-Out)

Floods occur more frequently than any other type of disaster, therefore flood recovery units are the most-needed type of DR unit. Teams working in this area are prepared to remove flooring, carpet, and sheet rock to help dry out and sanitize a home after a flood. This ministry is hard and very dirty, but provides great one-on-one opportunities with disaster victims.

Rebuild

This type of recovery team assists with construction tasks, including replacement of floors, walls, roofs, electrical, and plumbing. A variety of skills are needed among members of these teams. A high degree of flexibility is required of volunteers desiring to assist in the rebuild process.

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  • Sue Harmon
    Sue Harmon Disaster Relief
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