Janet using a chainsaw during disaster relief

How to Get Involved in Disaster Relief

Ways to Serve in 2023


Natural disasters are often referred to as “acts of God,” but disaster relief efforts can be considered a different kind of act of God. These “acts” include teams of volunteers who put God’s love into action. Janet Adwell from Birmingham has been a disaster relief volunteer since 2017 when Hurricanes Harvey and Irma ripped through Louisiana and Florida. As a petite female volunteer and mother of two, I wondered what she had to say.

Janet using a chainsaw during disaster relief
Seen here is Janet Adwell serving on the chainsaw team. When asked why she chooses to serve on this team, she responded, “I think it’s fun! I like working outside.”

What prompted your interest in disaster relief? “When the April 27 tornadoes came through the Birmingham area in 2011, I went to where I used to live to see what I could do to help. A lone American Red Cross worker was there and used me to help distribute food. I didn’t realize that the food was provided by the Alabama Baptists, not Red Cross. I was hooked!”

With whom do you serve? “I work with the Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief (ABDR) and Samaritan’s Purse (SP).”

Are there any differences in jobs that females do versus males? “No, but it helps to know your own strengths and weaknesses. Some jobs I cannot do as fast as a male, but I have proven myself to be a valuable chainsaw team member.”

What teams are available on which to volunteer? “ABDR has laundry, childcare, showers, feeding (for workers), mass feeding, mud-out, chainsaw, and roof tarping. SP has basically three general teams.”

Janet cooking food for disaster relief
There are a variety of areas disaster relief volunteers serve. Janet Adwell shares that she always returns home after serving feeling blessed.

Where have you volunteered? “Mostly in the Southeast, especially Louisiana. I’ve also been to Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Alabama. I have done a few one-day jobs locally.”

What would you say to someone considering serving as a volunteer? “If you have ever thought about it, give it a try. You come back feeling more blessed than before you left. I would encourage someone who may be feeling depressed to go. It will improve your disposition.” 

Are you interested in getting involved with disaster relief? On January 27-29, you can attend Disaster Relief Training through the Shelby Baptist Association. Learn more at shelbybaptist.org.

Karen Allen-Karen Allen is a freelance writer and blogger. Her Bible study Confronting Cancer with Faith brings hope to survivors worldwide. Sign up for her blog at ewerblessed.com.

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