Area groups stand ready to assist in Oklahoma relief efforts

CONYERS -- It seems the people who weren't caught off-guard by Monday's devastation in Moore, Okla., are the people who make up the church congregations and other faith-based agencies, as well as governmental disaster relief agencies. They stay prepared beforehand to come to the aid of victims of devastating events and do so time and again with their financial resources, their expertise and sweat equity.

The Southern Baptist Conference has an ongoing disaster relief program which has already been mobilized.

"The North American Mission Board is sending trucks today taking water and roofing material," said Melanie Malcom, ministry assistant with the Stone Mountain Baptist Association in Conyers, on Tuesday. The Stone Mountain Association maintains a feeding unit which stands ready to supply hot meals to victims, but Malcom said they have not been deployed so far.

Southern Baptists may make contributions to Southern Baptist Disaster Relief at donations.namb.net, which will continue relief efforts in the Moore community as the days go by.

Newton County Emergency/Risk Management Deputy Director Jody Nolan said Georgia has not been requested to send mutual aid at this point.

"Typically what they do is they drain their resources before they ask for mutual aid from surrounding states," he said. "If, in fact, they do need some help, they would call GEMA (Georgia Emergency Management Agency) and request those resources. Right now, I don't foresee that."

Similarly, Leigh-Anne Burgess, communication/PR specialist for Snapping Shoals EMC, said they have not yet had any request for crews to be sent to assist with re-establishing power.

The North Georgia Methodist Conference collects disaster supplies year-round.

"We've already collected hundreds of cleaning buckets which are likely already en route," said Sybil Davidson, associate director of connectional ministries for communications. "Also, training of early response teams and other mission teams is ongoing. When a call comes for those teams, we are well prepared in advance."

She said anyone wishing to make a financial donation this week through the Methodist Conference should drop a check in the offering plate at any Methodist church with the notation "May 2013 storm" and 100 percent of the funds will go toward response to the disaster.

"When storms hit, it's a time we mobilize people to create more (supplies, funds, etc.) so that when we're needed, whether for this disaster or the next, we're ready," Davidson said.

The Newton Citizen and Rockdale Citizen are asking that any area organization collecting funds or supplies for the Moore, Okla., community contact Calendar Editor Julie Wells at julie.wells@newtoncitizen.com.