Tribune-Courier News Editor
HARDIN — Marshall County’s Blood River Baptist Association and the Lakeland Red Cross mobilized disaster relief assets and personnel in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Carolyn Gray, a member of the Kentucky State Baptist Leadership Team, said a mobile kitchen at the Blood River Baptist Center is a part of the Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief Team. Teams from around the state provide trained disaster relief personnel for specific missions.
The mobile kitchen and one group of volunteers left on Oct. 31. A second group left Nov. 1. The kitchen and volunteer teams’ destination was Middletown, N.Y., and they were later reassigned to Staten Island.
Other missions provided by the Kentucky Baptist Relief Team include clean showers, child care, chainsaws, mud removal and recovery teams to rebuild.
Gray said she is looking for volunteers. She prefers trained responders, but will accept the untrained for support roles.
“It takes about 35 to 40 people to run a shift, and we work from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.,” Gray said. “At maximum capacity, we will serve between 15,000 to 20,000 meals per day.”
Gray added the mobile kitchen responded to a call for assistance in West Virginia after straight-line winds damaged infrastructure earlier this year. The team served 40,000 meals in that event, but expects much greater demand after Sandy.
The Kentucky Disaster Relief Team works under the auspices of the North American Mission Board. The Mission Board mobilizes teams as needed with a request from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They have worked with FEMA since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks of 2001.
Marshall County has over 300 volunteers that have passed background checks, received training and been certified to work in the mobile kitchen. Because of work commitments and family obligations, more volunteers are needed.
“We have people rotating in-and-out, and it can be a stressful few days,” Gray said. “We need volunteers to give workers a break. It takes a minimum of 100 people to run the kitchen and give people some time off.”
Groceries and supplies used for people forced out of homes, or without food or cooking facilities are provided by groups like the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
Gray said she expected she will see extensive property damage, and destroyed homes in a widespread area. The mobile kitchen’s mission is expected to last two or three weeks.
Meanwhile, the Lakeland branch of the American Red Cross is busy collecting money for disaster relief programs like food and shelters.
Darlene Lynn, executive director for the Lakeland Red Cross, said volunteers deployed to the East Coast before the hurricane struck. These volunteers assisted in establishing shelters for evacuees. More may deploy as needed.
“Every time a major disaster strikes the U.S. or even abroad, we always try to get the word out we need money to help,” Lynn said. “We can’t accept things like clothing or home items because we have no warehouse space.”
Lynn added Red Cross volunteers assist disaster victims by providing damage assessment and emotional support. Volunteers are also needed for blood donation.
“The storm has closed about 100 blood centers in the area so far, and other centers are needed to make up for that supply,” Lynn said.
To learn more, volunteer or donate to the Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief Teams, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To donate or volunteer for the Lakeland Chapter of the American Red Cross, call 270-527-0740.