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Escambia chainsaw crew provides relief

By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features writer
Hurricane Ivan was a storm like no one wishes to see again, but there were some good things to come out of the experience, one of which was the Escambia Baptist Association Disaster Relief Unit.
It seems everyone became familiar with the bright yellow shirts worn by a group of Baptists who came into Escambia County after Ivan with their chainsaws, not to mention the kitchen that was set up to feed hundreds of people. They became an inspiration to their counterparts in Escambia County.
In February of this year, more than 80 people from the 35 Southern Baptist Churches in Escambia County organized into a disaster relief team to help others as they had been helped.
The organization paid off when Hurricane Katrina hit Mississippi and Louisiana. A group of 16 people left last Tuesday, Sept. 13, to go to Biloxi to operate a chainsaw crew.
All of the 80 people do not respond to an area at the same time, rather they operate on a rotation basis – mainly because of the housing problem. The crew that left last week were housed in First Baptist Church of Biloxi, along with other groups who were working in the area.
The members of the chainsaw crew are trained and certified in the operation of chainsaw cutting and debris removal, food preparation and serving, chaplaincy, mud out and clean up and recovery. The group, led by Fred Parker and Peyton Williams, returned Friday, Sept. 16, having worked in the Biloxi area cleaning up the smaller debris left.
He said the group may go back later and do some more work, but right now they are waiting on the North American Mission Board to send them back if they are needed.