- (Photo: Reuters/Sean Gardner)
Various faith groups have been preparing to provide aid and any kind of service to residents in the path of Isaac as the tropical storm moved through Tampa on Monday before possibly making landfall in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast tonight or early Tuesday.
One such group is Samaritan's Purse, an international Christian relief organization founded by evangelist Franklin Graham, son of the Rev. Billy Graham.
"Samaritan's Purse disaster relief staff members are monitoring Tropical Storm Isaac and prepared to respond as it approaches the U.S. mainland while threatening to grow to hurricane status," the organization said in an Aug. 27 press release.
"Samaritan's Purse is positioning staff and supplies at our base in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where we are rebuilding homes for victims of a tornado that struck last year. We are ready to move to wherever Isaac hits, and determine where we are most needed," it added.
The organization has already offered aid to those in Haiti who were struck by the tropical storm and suffered massive flooding as a result.
Isaac began in the Caribbean, and hit the Florida Keys Monday, forcing the Republican National Convention, which is to take place in Tampa, to alter its schedule.
The National Hurricane Center predicts the storm will grow to a category 1 hurricane and make landfall in the Gulf Coast late Tuesday as it makes its way toward Louisiana and Mississippi.
Another Christian group providing relief for the tropical storm is Prepare And Respond (PAR), which consists of a network of 14 churches in Madison County, northern Alabama and was founded after the devastating tornadoes that swept the state in April 2011.
Churches involved in the PAR mission include Willowbrook Baptist, The Dwelling Place, The Rock Family Worship Center, Building Church, Harvest Baptist Church, and Twickenham Church of Christ, according to the local WHNT-TV news station.
The Christian disaster relief team has reportedly set up trailers stocked with first aid supplies, gasoline cans, chain saws, and waterproof tarps and is ready for action.
PAR coordinator Greg Nelson told WHNT-TV that the trailers would stay in Northern Alabama until Isaac made landfall so as to preserve the safety of his volunteers.
"We're not going to go down there and just be heroes and do our own thing. We'll do it in order, and we'll go where we're needed," Nelson said.
"These trailers, when they pull up, it gives people hope. They appreciate people coming from somewhere, even if they don't know where from… It's on the job training every time we go to an event," Nelson added.
The Southern Baptist Convention's Disaster Relief volunteers of the Florida chapter have also been scattered throughout the state, waiting on standby for the tropical storm to strike.
Fritz Wilson, team strategist for the Florida Baptist Convention, told Florida Baptist Witness that the volunteers will wait until the storm is finished passing over the keys before checking the area for damage.
"Because our volunteers are committed to responding whenever needed in times of disaster, they've always got a watchful eye in peak hurricane season," Wilson told Florida Baptist Press.
"Preparedness is just a part of being ready to go," he added.