Local volunteers on alert to aid in Harvey relief efforts

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A group of local residents has been put on alert to respond and assist with recovery efforts in Texas.

Hundreds of volunteers from local churches are waiting for the green light from officials so they can pack up trailers and head to Houston to help the city rebuild.

“We cant even get down there yet because the disaster is literally still happening,” explained Ishmael Labiosa, Director of Communications for the Southern Baptist Conservatives.

The group is made up of 700 churches across Virginia. Right now, they have 1,200 certified volunteers ready to be deployed when needed.

“That doesn’t mean everyone is going to be going, but we do anticipate hundreds ready to go,” Labiosa said.

The disaster relief teams with SBC focus on the rebuilding process that follows many natural disasters.

In the past, teams have been deployed to places including Louisiana for Hurricane Katrina as well as the recent West Virginia flooding.

“So our folks come in there and they are trained in how to rip apart the dry wall, the carpet, the flooring, everything that’s been ruined buy the water,” Labiosa said.

SBC of Virginia works with the National Conventions of Churches to send volunteers in waves to cover everything from debris cleanup to the actual rebuilding homes.

But for now, they’re waiting for emergency officials in Texas to give them the ‘all clear’ to start that process.

“Two organizations that we heard of who actually set up and were ready to respond but actually got flooded out and became victims themselves and had to be rescued themselves, so it’s a very touch and go situation,” Labiosa added. “We are really looking forward to getting down there once we get that green light.”

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