CBF to churches: be Christ to storm victims

The Fellowship's disaster response coordinator urges congregations to prepare to be of service to neighbors as an ice storm descends on the Southeast. 

By Jeff Brumley

Having been through the ice-and-cold ringer a few weeks back in Atlanta, Tommy Deal wasn’t taking any chances Tuesday as Winter Storm Pax bore down on the Southeast.

So Deal, national disaster response coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, took to the web to remind Baptist Christians and churches to take precautions in case the menacing weather system actually did become a disaster situation.

tommydealAnd he told ABPnews/Herald today that Fellowship disaster responders are keeping an eye on the developing situation in Georgia — but doing so cautiously.

“Honoring the warnings to not 'get out unless you have to,’ I would not want to encourage anyone to get on the roads at this point,” Deal said in an e-mail. “My emphasis now is for everyone to make certain of their own provisional needs.”

Those needs are what Deal comprehensively addressed Tuesday in e-mails, on Facebook and on the CBF website. He urged readers to have water, blakents, warm coats, gloves, boots, baby food and diapers on hand. He also reminded congregations and individuals that icing may result in downed power lines.

Churches, he said, should have teams on hand to staff the church if it’s needed as a shelter for surrounding communities.

All pretty basic stuff, but Deal said he had learned his lesson the hard way.

“Two weeks ago I was one of those who found myself on I-75 attempting to go north through Atlanta to get home,” Deal wrote for CBF. That resulted in two nights in a Forsyth, Ga., hotel.

The Weather Channel reported Wednesday morning that Pax has already sent temperatures below freezing as sleet and rain began falling. Georgia Power was reporting thousands of power outages across the state and predicted they will continue through the day.

Even if the storm does not reach disastrous proportions, Deal said on the CBF blog, it can cause conditions in some pockets where emergency preparations will come in handy.

redcrosslist“I am no prognosticator about things to come, but I am one who likes to prepare for the unlikely and then be glad when I do not have to enact the plans,” he said. “It is the icing that gives me pause to consider what I need to do.”

Deal headed his own advice. On Tuesday morning he broke out a generator and made sure it was functioning. He also stocked up on food and supplies.

The CBF Disaster Response Facebook page contains a number of articles and graphics with advice on how to prepare for disruptive storm events.

They include having a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food, first-aid supplies, tools and important documents.

Churches, most of all, should consider how they can be examples of Christ’s love in these situations, he said.

“Help your neighbors and the most vulnerable in your congregation and community,” he said.  “How can your church be Christ’s ambassadors of warmth and shelter in this cold, wintry weather?”