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TN volunteers looking to provide Sandy aid turned away

12:34 AM, Nov 13, 2012   |    comments
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Some East Tennessee Baptists who drove to New Jersey in hopes of serving thousands of meals to people recovering from Hurricane Sandy were sent home before they could feed anyone.

About 100 members of Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief teams across the state headed to the New York/New Jersey areas to provide aid. However, those who were specifically sent to the area to prepare meals were sent back home.

One of those people was Loudon native Larry Kirkland. He left Tennessee Saturday, got to his station point at McGuire Air Force Base Sunday, before ultimately leaving to come back home Monday.

"It is very important to me," Kirkland said on volunteering. "I feel that we need to serve other people as God called us to."

But, Kirkland was never sure as to the exact reason he and other volunteers were sent home.

"Whether they couldn't use us, whether it was a security issue, I have no idea,"

According to David Acres, Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief director, the reason they were sent home was because relief organizations simply over-prepared and over-planned. He told 10News the North American Mission Board had asked the group to get ready to prepare 600,000 meals for the Sandy relief effort. But, by the time the Tennessee group was ready to go to work, 300,000 meals had already been prepared.

Acres said at that point it was determined no other meals would be needed.

"They did not find a secure area for us to set up in and meals were not being used by the people," he said. "They [other relief groups] had the capabilities of cooking 300,000 meals and we were only doing somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 meals."

Kirkland said it was a bit frustrating he could not volunteer as he had originally planned.

"Yes it was, but that may have been the Lord's doing, I don't know," he said.

But, some Tennessee Baptists did get the chance to help out in the Sandy relief effort. Acres said the group contributed chainsaw crews who helped clear debris left by the hurricane.

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