Notes from Tuscaloosa, May 12

May 11, 2011

There is a tent with all kinds of supplies set up at the Central Church of Christ in Tuscaloosa. Several people are working in that effort. I did manage to wander through there once but didn’t see anyone to talk to about their work … they were scrambling around gathering needed supplies for others. I believe that those who need supplies mark on a paper what they need and then workers get it together.

Supplies for the Community

Added to that, people are arriving with trailer loads of supplies. They come from many different places. While I was there I saw trucks arrive from Mississippi, Kentucky, and Louisiana. I saw a truck from Potter Children’s Home drive up as well. As is the case in all disaster settings, the need for storage begins to take shape as supplies keep rolling in. At the Central Church of Christ there is no storage. The building is a complete loss.

Not everything that’s sent to a disaster scene is of use. There’s a sort of kindness that keeps a relief worker from turning away unneded items. For instance clothes are not needed. But they keep arriving. Someone has to say ‘no, thank you’. But it’s the Deep South … and these are Christians … and politeness trumps practicality. Some of the clothing was passed on to another group that was handling clothes. Clothes are very labor intensive. They have to be sized and sorted if you want them to be of use. Some send new clothes. Occasionally (ok, often) people use this kind of event to get rid of their yard sale rejects stuffed into a box six years ago. Even with the challenges, there is a great work of distribution of supplies going on at the Central church.

Sign Posted in Neighborhood Where Central Church Meets

I was mostly making sandwhiches, cleaning pans, putting new chicken patties in the ovens, getting them out, repeat. In fact, most of the workers here do not even know I’m here. That’s ok by me. there’s a job that needs to be done and it’s one I can actually do.

Today I also got to hear more of Mike’s disaster relief adventures. I told him he ought to put it all in a book. Mike has a personality that is especially suited to this kind of ministry. He is independent, gregarious, focused, generous, and tenacious. It takes a certain kind of skill and knowledge of self to live in disaster zones. You have to know when to engage, when to retreat, when to rest, when to serve. It’s a long term commitment and you cannot burn yourself out quickly.

That concludes my trio of posts from Tuscaloosa. I have received emails from Mike that there have been some people who have been baptized this week as a result of outreach from Christians. I’m so happy to hear that news as well. I also received an email from Trae Durden, Central’s Campus Minister who has taken a leading role in the recovery effort. Pray for the good folks at Central, and all the others who are working so hard for Christ and for humanity.

Disaster Assistance COC

Mike Baumgartner’s Blog

Thanks for reading,

John

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