By Jeff Brumley
Baptist disaster response coordinators from Florida to Virginia are keeping an eye on Sandy as the killer hurricane tracks north, while actively responding to the mayhem she has caused to islands in the Atlantic and Caribbean oceans.
In the U.S., Friday afternoon forecasts show the storm landing anywhere from the Carolinas to New England, with heavy winds, rain and storm surges from Florida northward.
While her track is uncertain, Sandy has left only deadly certainties in her wake. At least eight people were killed in Cuba on Thursday and other fatalities have been reported in Haiti.
“The ‘Frankenstorm’ it’s being called,” said Charles Ray, US disaster response coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
Two of the people killed were members of First Baptist Church in Santiago, Cuba, a congregation that has a working relationship with CBF, said Ray Johnson, coordinator of CBF Florida.
That church and about 500 others, plus 800 missions, are part of the Eastern Cuba Baptist Convention. CBF has a covenant with that convention, which is located in the hardest-hit part of the nation, Johnson said.
“Right now we are looking to assess what their needs are and we are trying to figure out the proper channels to get the assistance into the country,” he said.
Similar measures are being taken to assess the damage Sandy caused to the Bahamas, where nine CBF churches are located, he said.
Back in the U.S., Ray said Sandy’s wide cone of probability makes it impractical to take any actions except wait and see.
“Until we really know where it’s headed, there is not a great deal that CBF can do,” Ray said. “We have disaster response coordinators in the Carolinas and Virginia, and they are just going to have to wait.”