Miami, Okla. looked more like Miami, Fla. recently as the city was surrounded by a huge body of water. Massive flooding in the area put more than 650 homes and businesses under water. The incredible damage to the city compares to the devastation found in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

Floodwaters have receded, but the houses of residents are packed with unbelievable amounts of mud and debris. The damage is heartbreaking as many structures have now been condemned. Life for many will never be the same. Regaining normalcy, in short order, is a near impossibility without the help of friends and neighbors.

Following a devastating tornado or crushing ice storm, Oklahomans have come to recognize the loving hands of the men and women wearing distinctive yellow T-shirts and caps. These men and women are Oklahoma Southern Baptist disaster relief volunteers. Their highly valuable skills are used to feed thousands of disaster victims, to clear fallen trees from rooftops and yards with roaring chainsaws, provide a hot shower, care for children and now, to remove tons and tons of invasive mud from otherwise livable homes.

The average cost to professionally clean a 1,500-2,000-square-foot home, following a flood, is approximately $10,000. More than 100 homes in the Miami area are in need of assistance. That clean-up bill amounts to approximately $1 million. Thankfully, Oklahoma Southern Baptist disaster relief volunteers are providing the much needed service for free to many. The majority of efforts are helping those who were not insured or do not have the physical ability or resources to get things back to normal.

Oklahoma Southern Baptist disaster relief volunteers are doing all they can to assist with the efforts, but more volunteers are needed. Sam Porter, disaster relief director for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, is calling on all Oklahoma Baptists to get involved in the clean-up effort. Many church members, youth groups and Sunday School classes are seeing the need in Miami as an opportunity to join fellow Oklahoma Baptists and Oklahoma Southern Baptist disaster relief volunteers in a massive missions project right here in our state.

Cleanout includes removing personal property, cutting out sheet rock and insulation, power washing floors and spraying the floors and framing with a solution to prevent the growth of mold. The goal following each clean-up job is to pray with every homeowner and present them with the Gospel. Several have already come to know the Lord as a result of the clean-up efforts.

Porter estimates that it will take a month to fulfill all of the requests in Miami. More than 3,000 Oklahoma Baptists assisted in the Gulf Coast Region following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

To get down and dirty with the Disaster Relief efforts in Miami, e-mail the disaster relief office of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma at The work is hard and hot, but the potential to make an eternal difference is well worth the sacrifice. And, don’t forget, Oklahoma disaster relief is supported partially through gifts to the Cooperative Program.