Kentucky Disaster Relief chainsaw teams deploying to Alabama

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PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (KT) – Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief will be sending chainsaw teams to Alabama later this week to clear damage done from Hurricane Sally.


Charles Castle, a DR volunteer since 2005 and a member of First Baptist Church in Paintsville, said about 25 will be responding. He looks forward to the work, the interaction with other DR volunteers and the opportunity to share the gospel because of what’s done.


“People warm up to us,” he said. “The only thing we ask is if they will let us pray for them.”


Those prayers, sometimes after hours of work have been done, carry power that not even a dozen chainsaws can produce.


“We tell them in chainsaw classes, we don’t go down there specifically to cut trees. We cut trees because it lets us to the people. That’s the mission, not the trees,” Castle said.


Castle’s first DR mission was after Katrina in 2005. He’s taken on many assignments over the past 15 years and returns with a good feeling after each one. The Kentucky DR teams are considered some of the best in the nation with skilled workers. He said Coy Webb, who will be leaving to work with NAMB next month, gets the credit for the Kentucky teams to be so highly regarded.


“He actually brought us to where we are,” Castle said. “I’m not selling anybody else short, it’s just how things evolved. When I started, we didn’t have a chainsaw training class. Since those days, you have to have a certification or they won’t let you go with a chainsaw team. Certification is a two-day class. Saturday you go into the field and everybody has to drop a tree. It’s a pass-fail (class). We hate to fail anybody but it’s better to fail them than let them go and create a problem for themselves or somebody else.”


The chainsaw teams will be going to hard-hit Baldwin County, which is southeast of Mobile, Alabama. Reports of downed trees on houses and blocking roads are rampant, Castle said.


They are bringing trailers with the heavy equipment, including the skid-steer and a cherry-picker, Castle said.


Taking limbs from roofs can be a dangerous proposition, too, he said. “Sometimes you get up there and the roof is a little spongy,” he said.


Castle will be a Blue Hat along with Jeff Free for the chainsaw teams. They anticipate leaving Saturday and return the following Saturday.


This will be the second deployment since COVID seemed to halt traveling for Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief. Here some numbers from the work done by the Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief teams in response to Hurricane Laura.


Meals Prepared: 270,300

Gospel Presentations: 1,071

Professions of Faith: 254

Chainsaw Jobs: 946

Temporary Roofing Jobs: 102

Showers: 6,705

Laundry Loads: 3,559

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