Faith-based Disaster Relief Teams Ready

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As the Gulf states wait for the back wall of Hurricane Ike to move out of the area, faith-based disaster relief teams are positioned to respond with emergency supplies and prayer.

Click play to view footage of the effects of Hurricane Ike as it roared onto shore in the middle of the night.

Operation Blessing International (OBI) has pre-staged a team of first responders, supplies, and heavy machinery in Texas ahead of the 400 mile-wide hurricane. And the Somebody Cares Network has been planning and preparing for rapid response, rescuing lives and prayer ministry.

Although it is certain that recovery efforts will be far-reaching, the extent of the damage that Ike caused is still unknown since the storm made landfall in the middle of the night.

A CBN News crew hunkered down on the eastern edge of Houston, where reporter John Jessup said the eye of the storm passed earlier Saturday morning.

"We're feeling the effects of the back wall of Hurricane Ike," Jessup said. "The calm of the eye came through around 3:00 a.m. local time and lasted about an hour and a half. Outside our hotel on Clear Lake, there is significant flooding, beached sailboats, and extensive building damage to the façade of the hotel."

OBI monitored the storm's progress from Dallas on Thursday as forecasters tried to determine the path of the storm.

"We are monitoring Ike's progress and will move our staff and equipment to a strategic safe-area once we have a better idea of where Ike will hit the coast," said Jody Herrington, director of U.S. disaster relief operations for OBI. "This will enable us to launch our response within hours after the storm."

OBI will move into the area with their mobile command center, a crane, skid steer, shower and construction trailers, and a mobile kitchen that can feed up to 2,000 people each day. They are also pre-staging over 33,000 lbs of disaster relief supplies, including nonperishable food and ready-to-eat meals for immediate response.

The Somebody Cares Network has rallied over 30 churches, ministries, national and international relief organizations, and networks who are all part of their disaster preparedness and response team.

"Over a dozen churches and ministries are already setting up staging areas, shelters, warehouses, and distribution sites throughout Houston and surrounding areas along with ministries from throughout the U.S. who specialize in procurement, shipping, setting up feeding stations, deploying mission teams, and more," said Doug Stringer, president of Somebody Cares America/International.

"Some churches along our main evacuation route are even staying open to offer restrooms, auto assistance, water, and prayer to those who are leaving the area to avoid the storm," he added.

Meanwhile, the Missouri-based Convoy of Hope is directing aid to victims in Cuba, Haiti, and Jamaica.

"These countries are in extreme need after being devastated by three consecutive hurricanes," said Hal Donaldson, president of Convoy of Hope. "There are over 1 million displaced and homeless."

However, the organization is now preparing to redirect its efforts to Texas to help with relief from Ike, according to their statement.

Sources: CBN News, Operation Blessing International, Somebody Cares, Convoy of Hope

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