SBDR, Send Relief leaders in Puerto Rico, forge disaster response

By Brandon Elrod

SAN JUAN, PR (BP) — Three weeks since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, Sam Porter estimates that one-third of the island has yet to receive much care or help. Porter, who serves as the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) national director for disaster relief, has been in Puerto Rico since Sunday, Oct. 8.

Porter is working there with Jack Noble, a retired disaster relief director from the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, and David Melber, NAMB’s president of Send Relief, to coordinate a plan to deliver help and hope to the people of Puerto Rico.

This Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) response to this tragedy will be unlike anything Southern Baptists have faced. The situation in Puerto Rico has been so dire, the devastation so widespread, that SBDR will be doing much of its recovery work without the assistance of some traditional governmental and charity-based relief partners.

“The circumstance is so unusual that we have to take the full responsibility of this response on our own,” Melber said. “That means buying and shipping the food, renting warehouse space, sending the kitchen equipment and then providing the volunteers to do the cooking. We are forging our entire response by ourselves.”

Send Relief is working to establish relief ministry hubs in as many as 15 churches in Puerto Rico where SBDR volunteers will be able to provide hot meals and other needed services. NAMB and Send Relief have put together pastor kits, including generators, tools, food and other resources, that will go to local churches.

These kits will help those churches become centers for other forms of relief ministry throughout the community as SBDR and Send Relief volunteers step into the rough living situations in Puerto Rico.



Posted by Jeff Brown

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