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Texas Baptist Men To Offer Cooked Meals, Comfort To Okla. Storm Victims

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - Texas Baptist Men await word to go into action.  They are prepared to send help in the way of cooking food and are turning a full-size coach into a command and communications center, to talk to each other and to other relief agencies.

Cell phone use is among the first things to go in a disaster, so they have satellite phones to maintain contact.

The bus will actually go to Shawnee to relieve the Oklahoma Baptist Men already there, according to TBM’s Disaster Relief Director, Terry Henderson.

“Shawnee was hit by two tornadoes and we’re going to coordinate the efforts in Shawnee, with chain saw units, child care units, possibly a feeding operation  And then as the city of Moore opens up, we’ll probably support some more feeding and resources for them.”

TBM doesn’t just show up; it has to be invited either by FEMA or the other state’s Baptist relief agency. Too many well-intentioned but disorganized volunteers can confuse and slow relief efforts, according to Henderson.  “Once they get settled in and have that information then we’ll be headed up that way. But we’re just waiting for that call.”

While the command and communications bus can be used right away, feeding likely won’t start until local police finish rescue efforts, lift barricades, and let residents back into their homes.

“I think within the first 24-48 hours they’re trying to recover, local government is trying to put people in shelters…and generally within 3-5 days we start rolling our equipment out,” according to TBM Associate Executive Director Mickey Lenamon.

That’s when these feeding kitchens really kick in. Hot meals, three times a day, 40-thousand meals a day from just one 18-wheeler; when all three vehicles are at one place, they can cook up to 150,000 meals daily.

“One person can cook 200 meals every 45-minutes with this equipment,” says Lenamon adding, “We want to tailor it to the local cuisine, whether we’re in Louisiana, Florida, or Oklahoma, we want it to be good hot food, nutritious, for them.”

But it can take 30-50 people to do all the cooking and they’re not just walk-up volunteers. They’re trained and they get regular inspections to make sure the food is safe as well.   It will likely be Thursday before they’re called up and roll out from TBM’s Far East Dallas headquarters.

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