Because the City of Jasper declared a state of emergency two weeks ago, officials will be reimbursed for the costs of removing vegetative storm debris like fallen trees.
So residents must see to it that any vegetative storm debris are moved to the designated spot on the shoulder of the road. However, city workers can only remove the wreckage from the city’s right of way.
City leaders also ask that trash not be included with the trees and shrubbery.
Terry Ryan, director of the Florida Baptist Convention’s disaster relief and recovery department, said the group has already helped 24 residents in Walker County and organizers are trying to publicize the service.
In addition to tree removal, the group for the last several days has provided hot meals to Red Cross workers, who have distributed the food across the county.
Ryan said his group can facilitate the Red Cross because of its two mobile feeding units, which can provide 35,000 hot meals a day.
“That’s more than any restaurant in Jasper can do,” said Denis Culbreth, the pastor of First Baptist.
Culbreth said the members of his congregation have been amazed to see how hard the Florida team has worked to help complete strangers.
“You are humbled that they would come and do this,” he said. “They’re just doing it for the love of Jesus.”
Ryan said the group also hopes to help Cordova by providing the town with the disaster relief team’s mobile shower unit, which consists of a tractor-trailer with four shower stalls as well as a washer and dryer.
Ryan said the disaster relief group stationed in Jasper is part of a network of 6,500 volunteers throughout the country who are funded by donations to the Southern Baptist Convention and by tithes to churches associated with the organization.
Ryan said many churches, including Jasper’s First Baptist, have local volunteers associated with disaster relief who use their vacation to travel with relief groups when disasters strike.
“So one day in Florida I’ll call in and say, ‘Hey, we had a hurricane,’ and they’ll come in,” Ryan said referring to the local volunteers at First Baptist.
Ryan said one thing the Baptist disaster relief groups stress everywhere they go is that the volunteers never ask for donations of any kind. He said many scammers will find the yellow shirts indicative of the group and travel to disaster zones pocketing donations for the convention.
Ryan said the volunteers with his group are in the area simply to help the residents of Walker County.
“And if we’re really volunteering and doing what Christ asked us to do, well then it’s priceless anyway,” he said.
For more information about the disaster relief group’s tree services, call 205-221-6447.