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Texas Baptist Men honored for service in Imelda

NEDERLAND — First Baptist Church in Nederland served as a central point for Tropical Storm Imelda relief for approximately a month.

During the relief response height, 150 volunteers were housed at the facility on Nederland Avenue, sleeping on cots and air mattresses at night before working days in Orange, Beaumont, Hamshire and Winnie.

Tropical Storm Imelda dumped many feet of rain across the region, beginning Sept. 17.

Mid- and South County were largely spared the worst of the damage, making First Baptist Church in Nederland a logical spot to stage large scale relief efforts.

Pastor Jason Burden knew just who to call when he saw the need — Texas Baptist Men.

Charles Pyles, a volunteer for Texas Baptist Men, assists food workers by washing bins Sept. 23 at Nederland First Baptist Church. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

“Within a week, our church gets filled up with workers, volunteers, people who are doing clean outs,” he said. “There are just a host of services that they provide, things I didn’t realize were needed. It comes in awful handy. It’s amazing. As soon as they hear there is a need, they show up.”

The large scale response led to Burden dubbing his church Hotel First Baptist for much of late September and early October.

He said Texas Baptist Men’s greatest contribution to the surrounding community was hope.

“People know about the situation and they are actively doing something to improve the situation,” he said. “We were just the staging location for the workers to go out and work all over the place. They were just happy to have a clean, peaceful room to sleep in at night. They eat in our fellowship hall and enjoy some good camaraderie while they’re doing the labor for free.

“They are people from all over the state of Texas and beyond our state borders who want to show love in tangible ways to people who are hurt and going through the worst tragedy they may ever face in life.”

Recognition

Texas Baptist Men, an affiliate of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, was recognized this week by the City of Nederland, which presented a proclamation and designated a day in the group’s honor.

Volunteers were recognized as coming from as far away as Alabama, New Mexico and Tennessee.

The Nederland proclamation indicated 12,000 volunteer hours helped provide meals, home assessments, tear outs, pressure washing, mold mitigation, debris removal, chainsaw work, temporary roofing and shower and laundry services for volunteers.

“The city of Nederland wished to applaud and recognize the heroes from Nederland and those from outside the area and state who gave of themselves to assist their neighbors, our community and our region when help was sorely needed,” the proclamation read, signifying Oct. 28, 2019, as Texas Baptist Men Day in Nederland.

Mayor Don Albanese said it was an honor to have the volunteers stay locally during a time of widespread distress.

“I didn’t get water in my house but I had friends and family that did,” Albanese said. “I just know the stress that went into that. Any of the help that y’all gave was so greatly appreciated. We thank you for coming to Nederland.”