CORPUS CHRISTI—A half dozen Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) rumbled through the parking lot of Annaville Baptist Church in Corpus Christi before noon Thursday, Aug. 31, and then again in sweltering temperatures at 4 p.m. to pick up more than 2,500 meals prepared by Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief feeding volunteers for distribution to victims of Hurricane Harvey in communities along the Gulf Coast.
The hot meals, safely sealed in thermal Cambro containers, were carried to Freeport, Rockport, Woodsboro, Aransas Pass and Gregory, said Joe Vich, Red Cross kitchen manager from Waterloo, Iowa. Leftovers were taken to a nearby nonprofit ministry.
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Vich commented that he had worked with SBTC DR volunteers in the past in Louisiana. “They are a fabulous group, very well organized. They know what they are doing. This group has been, over the top, a pleasure to work with.”
Vic Hencken, representing the Red Cross’s senior vice president of disaster relief, said, “I can’t say enough about the Southern Baptists, about what they do and how they do it.”
SBTC unit director Ray Schwertner of Rockwall praised his team of 17 volunteers from across the state, including two feeding units from First Baptist of Brownsville.
“We’re glad to be out here working with our brothers and sisters serving the people of the Gulf. It’s hot out here, but everybody’s got a great spirit. We’re glad to represent God in the Corpus area,” Schwertner said.
DR volunteers plan to be in the area awhile. “We expect a three to four week deployment,” said Terry Roberts, SBTC volunteer from Brownsville. “People will be phased in and out over that time. It’s open ended.”
A team from First Baptist Linden arrived with a shower and laundry trailer in support of feeding volunteers and other first responders.
Annaville Baptist Church is hosting SBTC volunteers and making its parking lot and family life center available to both Red Cross and SBTC DR personnel, providing meals to volunteers.
Annaville members erected temporary quarters for male and female SBTC volunteers, the particleboard partitions forming a makeshift dormitory in the midst of the fellowship hall.
“We’re more than happy to help,” Annaville pastor Robert Simmons told the TEXAN, adding that his church’s chainsaw teams were at work in surrounding areas to help victims.
“We want to do anything we can to bring the light of Jesus into the darkness and into this mess. And it is a mess!” Simmons said.
SBTC feeding units also deployed to Houston at Clay Road Baptist Church and First Baptist Pflugerville, SBTC task force member Dewey Watson confirmed.
Crews heading to Houston were stalled for two days due to flooding, until the Texas Department of Transportation mapped a route for them, Watson said.
Calling the weather in northwest Houston “hot but drying,” unit director Ralph Britt said 22 SBTC volunteers had gathered at Clay Road Baptist “ready to cook” but were waiting on supplies and equipment from the Red Cross, with expectations to begin preparing meals on Friday.
Another feeding team from First Baptist Pflugerville headquartered at that church, staffed by its members and led by Mike Northen, anticipated starting meal preparations on Friday also.
Northen also alerted the Red Cross of damage in nearby Smithville and La Grange, both flooded by the Colorado River.
Northen said his Pflugerville team will be providing meals for shelters and possibly for victims in Smithville and La Grange.
“The overall disaster is ten or a hundred times worse than anything we’ve ever seen,” Northen said.
Watson expressed thanks to all volunteers: “They are willing to step out of their lives to give a portion of their time to people they don’t even know.”
Watson also confirmed plans to deploy a feeding trailer from First Baptist Lufkin to Calvary Baptist Church in Beaumont as soon as roads are passable.
Get up-to-date information, find opportunities to volunteer, and give online at sbtexas.com/harvey.