Ohio Disaster Relief Finishes Banner Year, Prepares for 2023

Ohio Disaster Relief Finishes Banner Year, Prepares for 2023

By John Heading

2022 was a banner year for Ohio Disaster Relief (DR). Ninety volunteers completed training to bring help, hope and healing to disaster victims. Drawing from a force of 280 trained volunteers, teams served in Colorado forest fire recovery, Kentucky tornadoes and flood recovery, Florida hurricane recovery, as well as five weeks of tornado relief work in Ohio.

For the first-time, teams traveled internationally. They served one week each month in March, April, and May 2022, assisting churches in Poland with refugee ministries due to the war in Ukraine. Ohio DR also has a partnership with Western Europe and is preparing to send teams into Ukraine when it is safe.

This year DR purchased a mobile kitchen. In the first two months, teams served fifteen hundred meals at Serve Tour Dayton, provided meals for Ohio chaplain training, and cooked and served food for a full-scale emergency drill in Mt. Orab. The feeding unit is a great tool for providing for those in need and sharing the gospel in the process. Dr. Kevin Ezell, North American Mission Board president, was instrumental in securing a grant to cover most of the cost for this unit and Ray Roberts Offering funds supplied the rest.

Since January 2022, Ohio DR teams have led forty-two people to faith in Christ including homeowners, servers, hotel clerks, and truck drivers. Disaster Relief chaplains help connect new believers to local SBC churches for follow-up and discipleship.

Despite nineteen deployments this year, DR lacks sufficient staffing to manage larger disaster situations in Ohio and has had to turn down deployments. Meeting needs at home, across the country, and around the world requires more volunteers now.

As a result, 2023 will be a year focused on recruiting and training volunteers. The goal is to train two hundred new volunteers. Since only twenty percent of trained volunteers deploy and the average volunteer can only deploy one or two weeks a year, it takes hundreds of volunteers to meet all the needs.

One of the biggest needs is heavy equipment. Since1986, teams have worked by hand. Volunteers have cut and moved trees by hand, gutted homes using sleds, and moved large objects with wheelbarrows and two-wheeled dollies. A new truck, trailer, and skid steer could cost as much as $100,000, but would make the work much safer and more productive

If you would like to be part of Ohio Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, please visit the webpage at
www.scbo.org/DR or contact John Heading at jheading@scbo.org.

Training new volunteers is the goal for DR in 2022. Volunteers are needed in all areas, including chainsaw, mud-out, food service, chaplains, and assessors.