The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT) is deploying more crisis-trained chaplains to three additional locations hit hard by southern tornados. Already on the ground in two locations in Alabama after last week’s severe storms, the organization is rushing assistance to Southside and Pelham, Alabama, and Newnan, Georgia.
Chaplains will offer emotional and spiritual support alongside Samaritan’s Purse after deadly tornadoes devastated the area on Thursday leaving both homes and emotions shredded.
The organization could be stretched thin as the nation’s severe storm season just gets underway. Typically, April and May are the worst months for tornadoes and flooding. Nashville over the weekend was under a state of emergency after record rain fell leaving some clinging to their roofs as creeks and rivers overflowed their banks. For people died.
At least five people were killed in Thursday’s tornadoes and widespread damage to homes, trees and power lines was reported.
“The state of Alabama was still reeling from last week’s tornadoes and now to get hit with another destructive storm system has a lot of people hurting and overwhelmed,” said Josh Holland, assistant director of the BG-RRT.
“Our crisis-trained chaplains want to be there to visit with people, allow them to share their experiences, and to share the hope and peace that only God can provide.”
In addition to the five tornado deployments in Alabama and Georgia, BG-RRT chaplains are also serving after historic flooding in Breathitt County, Kentucky.
It’s not just storms that the response team responds to. BG-RRT regularly deployed to shootings last year after BLM protests left hundreds dead and thousands of primarily black-owned businesses looted and burned.
They also deployed to Boulder, Colorado last week after a Syrian refugee shot and killed 10 people, including a veteran police officer, at a grocery store. A team of crisis-trained chaplains invited by the community and are still on the ground to provide emotional and spiritual support for those grieving.
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“The tragedy of the mass shooting at the grocery store in Boulder, Colorado is excruciating,” said Holland. “Our hearts break for each and every family who lost a loved one through this evil and senseless act of violence. The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team has crisis-trained chaplains in Boulder who will be available to offer emotional and spiritual care to this community during this time of great pain. We pray for God’s supernatural peace and comfort as they grieve.”
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team was developed by Franklin Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It has since grown into an international network of chaplains in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia who are specifically trained to deal with crisis situations. They have deployed to more than 450 disaster sites across the globe, including shootings, floods, hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes.
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice