Hurricanes, tornadoes and floods, reminders that change can happen overnight. When disaster strikes, disaster relief goes into action. Working together, FEMA, the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, and Florida Baptist Disaster Relief are four major disaster relief organizations in the Southeast United States. They prepare throughout the year to help survivors.
Gary and Kathryn Wintercorn of Jensen Beach, Florida are two volunteers who give their time to Florida Baptist Disaster Relief. They began this type of work with a local pastor needing help within his church in Covington, Louisiana after major flooding occurred. There the men “mudded” homes—tore them down to the bare minimum, gutting them of rotten walls, carpeting and fixtures. Kathryn’s eyes were opened to the need as she sat and listened to a woman tell that she and her husband had just gone to bed. When she got up later and swung her legs off the bed, they went into water. They were trapped. The husband was on oxygen and couldn’t be moved easily.
Kathryn states, "There was an unprecedented amount of rain at one time that flooded everyone. That area was stunned at the amount of rain in such a brief time."
Kathryn adds that this kind of experience is emotionally traumatic for survivors. Sometimes they’re present as Disaster Relief moves their life, their stuff out of what was their home. Kathryn just listens with compassion and loves them.
Florida Baptist Disaster Relief is divided into several zones and consists of around 600 volunteers. They go out as teams for intense relief situations for a week at a time, at their own cost. Gary and Kathryn’s team is made up of 20 individuals. Together they mudd homes, care for children, put on blue roofs, and often cook the food that Red Cross distributes. Chainsaw workers cut down trees and clear debris. Semi-trucks bring in portable kitchens and showers for their use. As one team exits, another transitions in from another Florida zone.
Other volunteers are in charge of administration, logistics, mechanics, and work as chaplains. They do not go just to help other Baptists; this organization helps all people.
Many volunteers are retired, but Kathryn and Gary are still working. They take time off to go out and help others. Their children and grandchildren see what they are doing and affirm it as good.
Disaster Relief responds after a natural disaster such as hurricanes, tornadoes, or flooding. If you have a need after one of these disasters, please call the area association leader, Bert Holden at 772-485-6213. He will assist you. Also, at this time, he will be able to answer any questions you may have about becoming a volunteer.
Gary and Kathryn Wintercorn may be found Sunday mornings at First Baptist Church in Jensen Beach.
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