From the Tennessee Baptist Convention Disaster Relief leadership:
Many people are eager to respond to the heartbreaking disaster in Haiti. There are serious infrastructure and coordination issues that are hampering the disaster relief response. Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief continues to be in daily communication with our partners: Baptist Global Response (Southern Baptist Entity with primary responsibility for International disaster response), the Florida Baptist Convention, North American Mission Board and our sister state conventions. BGR, Florida Baptists, IMB and North American Mission Board now have personnel on the ground in Haiti and are feeding information back to us on conference calls daily.
A primary hindrance to Southern Baptists sending in teams is the transportation issues. The airport in Port-au-Prince is still closed to commercial flights. The 200 mile trip from Santo Domingo to Port-au- Prince that would normally take 7 hours to drive now takes 18 hours. All roads are heavily damaged and vehicular travel is very slow and extremely hazardous. Another issue is the safety and security of volunteers. There are no secure areas for teams to sleep. When teams are deployed, they will more than likely be sleeping in tents.
At this time Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief is not collecting any items to be shipped to Haiti. The docks at Port-au-Prince are expected to be closed for up to 90 days and non-governmental air cargo is very limited. Our Southern Baptist leadership has requested that money be given to be used to buy items needed in bulk. We are praying that shipping ports will re-open soon and more supplies can be sent.
BGR and NAMB are telling us that it could be 90 to 120 days before Disaster Relief teams are needed in Haiti. When called upon the teams that will go will be food distribution, medical, restoration, rebuild and chaplains. It is anticipated that this response to Haiti will last three years and perhaps longer. We as Southern Baptists want those people in Haiti to know we will be there for the long haul. Thank you for your continued patience as we seek the best way to respond to the needs of the people of Haiti.
For now, we hope you will continue to pray, give, and prepare to go. Follow this link to give online or by check. http://www.tnbaptist.org/page.asp?page=99 All funds will be used for victims assistance according to our Board-adopted policy on designated Disaster Relief contributions. You can also see information and even download bulletin inserts by going to www.namb.net/haiti
You can also follow these links to regular updates from Baptist Global Response http://www.baptistglobalresponse.com/new/.