Typhoon Yutu work begins, other DR efforts continue

SUSUPE, Saipan (BP) -- Last week Typhoon Yutu overwhelmed a U.S. territory, the Commonwealth of Northern Marianna Islands (CNMI), which is part of the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention (HPBC). Meanwhile, Southern Baptists have been in the midst of organizing a response.

Volunteers with Church 360, a church plant in the U.S. territory of Saipan that cooperates with the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention, helped clean their church’s meeting space following Typhoon Yutu. The storm blew through and severely damaged their building on Oct. 25.
Photo from Facebook
On Oct. 24, Yutu reportedly swallowed the 67 square-mile island of Saipan, endangering the roughly 52,000 inhabitants. Saipan is the northernmost island of CNMI, roughly 3,860 miles west of Hawaii.

As of Tuesday (Oct. 30), officials were still working to clear roads and repair the airport, said Darrell McCain, disaster relief director for HPBC. Only military and humanitarian relief were allowed to fly into the island.

"The Baptist Association of Micronesia (BAM) is sending a disaster relief team to start assessing and working on [Church 360 in Saipan]," said McCain in written comments.

Typhoon Yutu delivered a blow to Church 360, a church plant, tearing down walls and rendering some of their meeting spaces unusable. Church volunteers, however, cleaned up, and they managed to host a worship service this past Sunday (Oct. 28).

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) teams hope to repair the church and use it as a base of operations to serve the community, McCain said.

Typhoon Yutu ravaged the U.S. territory of Saipan on Oct. 25, seriously damaging the meeting space of Church 360.
Photo from Facebook
"Many homes are damaged or destroyed and will need lots of help," he said. "We will do our best to go and bring help, hope and healing in Jesus's name."

Chris Martin, the executive director/treasurer of HPBC, expressed his thanks to Rob Puckett, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Guam, and to the churches that make up the BAM for their quick response. Puckett serves as BAM's disaster relief coordinator.

"Please join us in fervent prayer and generous response to the churches and community in Saipan," Martin said. The HPBC and BAM have sent financial resources to aid the response. For more information on Hawaii Baptist's disaster relief efforts, go to https://www.hpbaptist.net/.

Southeast hurricane response continues

SBDR volunteers continue their work in the Southeast as they respond to Hurricanes Florence and Michael.

"We expect to see Southern Baptists feeding at least up until Thanksgiving at some sites in Florida," said Sam Porter, national director for disaster relief at the North American Mission Board (NAMB).

NASA captured a photo of Typhoon Yutu as it passed over the U.S. territories of Guam and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands on Oct. 25.
Photo from NASA
"We have hundreds of volunteers who are still helping people clean up storm damage, and we will still need hundreds more to volunteer months from now," Porter said. "The damage from these hurricanes has been that extensive."

In response to Hurricane Michael, SBDR has surpassed the 700,000 mark in meals provided. Southern Baptist volunteers have also cleared more than 1,300 homes and yards of downed trees and other storm debris.

In North and South Carolina, SBDR volunteers provided more than 1.1 million meals, cleared nearly 1,200 homes and performed flood clean-up for more than 600 homes following Hurricane Florence.

So far, Southern Baptists have presented the Gospel more than 2,100 times and reported 224 professions of faith.

For more information on how you can help, contact your Baptist state convention or visit namb.net/hurricane-relief.

Brandon Elrod writes for the North American Mission Board.
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