Saturday, June 10 was the 20th anniversary of the Red River Baptist Association Disaster Relief Team.

Saturday, June 10 was the 20th anniversary of the Red River Baptist Association Disaster Relief Team.
The team was organized in 1997 following the Arkadelphia tornado. They are located at 905 Highway 67 South in Arkadelphia. They have two trucks, a bus, four trailers, and the equipment necessary to prepare 12,000 meals per day.
The team is one of twelve Baptist kitchens in Arkansas that are under operational control of the Disaster Relief Director for Arkansas Baptist, and is the only team located in southwest Arkansas. The team consists of over 200 trained volunteers from the area. They most often work in a partnership with The American Red Cross or The Salvation Army on major disaster responses. These partners provide the food and services that are required while Red River provides the mobile kitchen and personnel to support the effort.
They have responded to 39 large and small named disasters in Texas (three), Colorado (two), Oklahoma, North Dakota, New York (two), North Carolina, Florida, Alabama, and several times to Louisiana, plus several in Arkansas.
In addition they have supported a similar number of non-disaster events for Southern Baptist and other entities, such as the Arkansas Dental Association’s annual free dental clinics, over the years. Members of the team recently returned from a week in Pocahontas, Arkansas where they fed evacuees from the recent northeast Arkansas flooding.
The team’s most recent acquisition is a trailer mounted quick response kitchen dedicated to the support of first responders from this area when they are called out on a response expected to last more than two or three hours and for which food and drink may be required. This includes events such as drowning, manhunts, person lost, fires, and industrial accidents, plus acts of nature such as floods, ice, and wind.
The trailer is equipped with the necessary utilities and cooking equipment, and has a supply of food and water on board. The kitchen was built by team members with financial support for the trailer and cooking equipment provided by The Olds Foundation, Arkansas Community Foundation, members of Red River Association churches, and other generous supporters. Members of the team spent the 3 day New Year holiday period activated in support of a missing person search going on in a wilderness area west of Arkadelphia. The new trailer has also been used on three occasions to support first responder training.
Harold Johnson of Arkadelphia has been the Unit Director since the beginning. Not only is he active in the leadership of the overall Arkansas Baptist disaster relief program, but also served for 10 years as a member of the National Incident Command Team for Southern Baptists, where he assisted in the management of multi-state responses by Southern Baptist.