Volunteers needed for Hurricane Harvey & Irma Disaster Relief teams


By Bob Williams

Volunteers are needed for Southern Baptist relief efforts following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma to prepare thousands of hot meals and perform flood recovery, tree and debris removal, and cleaning services to restore survivors’ homes. Southern Baptist volunteers bring hope to affected persons through presence, humanitarian relief, emotional solace, and spiritual care (affirming or sharing the Living Hope of Jesus).

Will you serve for a week on one of the disaster relief teams being formed? First Baptist Church of Norfolk undertakes disaster relief activities through the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia (SBCV). Volunteers may be certified/credentialed Southern Baptist disaster relief (DR) workers or Southern Baptist Send Relief volunteers. All volunteers must either be credentialed as a Southern Baptist Disaster Relief responder or complete a 2.5 online training course to be a Send Relief worker. If you will volunteer, please take one of the following three actions to register for service:

1.    If you are a DR worker with current credentials, please register at this website:


2. If you’ve been previously trained in DR, but your credentials have expired, please register at this website:


3. If you have never been trained in DR, but desire to go as part of a team in partnership with Send Relief, please register at this website:


For DR workers who are trained and current, you will be on the first teams deployed and some of you will be asked to provide leadership to those who are untrained and part of Send Relief.

For DR workers who are trained but not current, you will need to complete the online training course at this website:


Be sure to use the discount coupon code SBCVDR so that there will be no cost.  You will be placed on teams with both DR and Send Relief volunteers.

For those who have never been trained in DR, you also need to complete the online training course at this website:


Be sure to use the discount coupon code SBCVDR.  You will be assigned to a team with SBCV DR.  You will be assigned a specific task that is related to the online training.  Since you are not fully trained and credentialed (which includes a background check), you will be assigned to a team after the first week or two of response (as part of our agreement with FEMA).  Also, you will not be able to operate certain equipment (like chainsaws), but will be assigned other vital tasks within the team.  You will be assigned to a team and be expected to follow the instructions and direction of the team leader.

There will be opportunities to respond for many weeks and even months.  If you desire to go, we will find a team for you to serve on.

Please be in prayer for:

  • families affected
  • first responders and National Guard
  • all agencies that prepare and plan
  • teams and volunteers as they go

We are pleased to announce that to date, First Norfolk has donated more than $11,800.00 toward Disaster Relief response for Southeast Texas/Louisiana relief from Hurricane Harvey. These funds will be used for providing meals for those in need and support for teams serving in our mud-out units helping clean out homes that were flooded during this storm in order to minimize further damage by allowing them to be dried out for future repair.

For further information, contact Bob Williams at RobertFarrisWilliams@Cox.net or call 757-641-4557.

Louisiana Flood Disaster Relief Efforts

The historic flooding that hit southern Louisiana in mid-August has taken 13 lives, damaged more than 60,000 homes, and led to the rescue of 30,000 people from homes and vehicles. But First Baptist Norfolk has been a part of helping those affected. One of our church members, Bob Williams, served as the team leader for two Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia (SBCV) disaster relief teams in Baton Rouge from Sept. 3-18.

Two other First Norfolk members, Andy Hartell and Randy Morton, served on the first team, and other team members were from Richmond, Colonial Heights, Lynchburg, and Marion. During the second week, the disaster relief team members were from Chesapeake and Chase City. The First Norfolk flood recovery disaster relief trailer was used to support these two teams.

Williams and the two teams aided homeowners in preparing their homes for reconstruction. Some homes were still flooded at the time the teams were in Louisiana. As the water receded, there was much work to be done: water-damaged items were discarded; wall surfaces, insulation, and floor coverings were removed; bathrooms and kitchens were torn out; home interiors were power-washed to remove flood residue; and sanitizing solution was sprayed throughout homes to prevent mold growth.

More important than the humanitarian relief, Williams said, is the emotional and spiritual care they provided. Every disaster relief team member is also trained in spiritual care.

“Our most important role is sharing the living hope we have through faith in Jesus and the resulting inheritance that we have that does not perish, spoil, or fade (1 Peter 1:3-4), as has happened to their homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces,” Williams said.

“We come in the name of Jesus to offer hope to hurting people. We bring hope through our physical presence; someone from afar has come to be with them. We bring hope through humanitarian relief; the cleaning and sanitizing of their homes. We bring hope through emotional solace; we offer a shoulder to cry upon, an ear to listen. Their families and neighbors have had the same experience; emotional relief occurs when sharing their story with someone who has not experienced the same disaster. We bring hope through spiritual care; we affirm believers in their faith, and share the living hope of Jesus with non-believers.”

Donate online to help the Louisiana flood response effort.