Rescue and relief efforts are underway as the greater Houston area and southeast Texas reel from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey and the more than 20 trillion gallons of rain that has fallen there since last Friday.
Damage from the hurricane – the most powerful to hit Texas in more than 50 years – has been estimated at $75 billion, making it one of the costliest storms in U.S. history.
As of Thursday afternoon, Texas officials said between 30,000 and 40,000 homes had suffered flood damage. According to FEMA, around 325,000 people have begun the process of seeking federal help, and at least 450,000 people are expected to need emergency assistance in the wake of Harvey.
“The flooding is just horrendous in southeast Texas,” reported Franklin Graham, President of Samaritan’s Purse, which is one of many organizations responding to the devastation. “People have lost their homes, and some have lost everything.”
Samaritan’s Purse said disaster relief units are currently in Texas and volunteer teams have begun work, tarping damaged roofs, chainsawing fallen trees, and cleaning up storm debris. Alongside the teams are crisis-trained Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) chaplains who are providing spiritual and emotional care to distressed homeowners and others throughout each respective community.
RRT International Director Jack Munday said his team is “in this for the long haul.”
“We’re there to provide that emotional and spiritual care, to encourage them, to support them and help them any way we can,” he said in a ministry report. “This is a time of incredible tragedy, and for many, this could be the darkest hour of their life.”
Also onsite is Convoy of Hope, which has delivered more than $1 million worth of supplies to Texas since its response began and reported Wednesday that it has dozens more truckloads enroute. The organization’s focus has been on distributing food, water, and hygiene items, as more than 200,000 people are without power and tens of thousands are without water.
“Families that had supplies are now running short,” reported Nate Youngblood, the national domestic disaster director for World Vision, another organization that has been sending emergency supplies to the disaster zone.
“Many families were forced to leave their homes often with no food, no extra diapers, or a change of clothes,” Youngblood said in a report. “World Vision is working to get resources into the hands of those who need them most as soon as possible.”
World Vision’s team of staff, local churches, and community partners have been mobilizing to reach 100,000 people affected by the disaster. Among the supplies it is distributing to churches and local partner organizations to benefit storm victims are tents, sleeping bags, coolers, food kits, personal hygiene items, school supplies, socks, clothes, diapers, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and latex gloves.
On Tuesday, Somebody Cares International reported that its relief operations were fully underway despite being a victim of the storm as well. The Houston-based organization reported that its staff and network had to be evacuated from their homes, but have still been assisting families and individuals; fielding and responding to calls for help throughout the region; helping connect those stranded by rising waters with rescue teams; assessing needs in shelters to mobilize resources; identifying staging areas for feeding and distribution stations; communicating important safety notices through its community network, as well as situational updates to network partners nationwide; and facilitating the collaboration of numerous churches and ministries to begin bringing in aid.
“We have prayed for many who have had friends or family missing or awaiting rescue, and thankfully, rejoiced when they were located safe and sound,” the organization reported Tuesday.
“Please continue to pray for all those affected by Hurricane Harvey, those who are responding with such great compassion, and governmental leaders at all levels who are under tremendous stress to serve so many,” it added. “Please also consider a generous donation to help with immediate needs and the long road to recovery ahead for millions of Texans.”
Also helping storm victims while being among the storm’s victims is Buckner International, which initiated relief efforts to help those both in southeast Texas and those who have evacuated to north Texas.
Buckner President and CEO Albert Reyes said Tuesday in a report that most of the ministry’s operational sites sustained “light damage” from rain, but many clients and staff were still dealing with flooded homes.
Reyes also said reports on the safety of clients, staff, and ministry sites were still preliminary.
“It appears those served by – or serving through – Buckner are relatively safe,” he reported. “We are grieving with several staff members and families in Houston or Beaumont who have experienced flooding or loss of homes, but rejoice that everyone is safe.”
Other NRB members affected by the storm include radio stations KCTA Radio AM 1030, which reported damage at its transmitter site; KHVT, the Victoria, Texas, station of KHCB that is off the air due to a downed tower; and KSBJ, which reported that several of its FM signals were down but have since come back on the air.
Meanwhile, as the rainfall has abated and the floodwaters have begun to recede, more help is arriving from across the nation, including from organizations that are not usually engaged in domestic relief efforts.
American Family Association has partnered with the Christian nonprofit organization Eight Days of Hope to help provide relief to flood victims, Answers in Genesis is working with long-time ministry partner Children's Hunger Fund to provide needed relief, and Food For The Poor – which primarily serves internationally – is teaming up with Cincinnati-based Matthew 25: Ministries to provide disaster relief.
“Our core work remains in developing countries where there are no safety nets, but this will allow us to serve our brothers and sisters in Texas who are hurting,” said Food For The Poor Executive Director Angel Aloma in a press release.
Meanwhile, in Kerrville, Texas, The Coming King Foundation (TCKF) reported that hundreds of those affected by Hurricane Harvey are finding solace at its “The Empty Cross” prayer garden.
“This week our Tour Guide Chaplains have been praying for dozens of victims of Hurricane Harvey, families who have escaped the disaster on the Gulf coast, seeking higher ground,” said Jeff Anderson, TCKF’s “Fire Marshall,” who leads the 50 trained volunteer chaplains who serve the garden’s guests.
“They found the higher ground at the cross of Jesus Christ in Kerrville,” he added in a press release.
To support relief efforts, click on the links below for the respective NRB member organizations:
• Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
• Samaritan's Purse
• Somebody Cares
To download audio messages prepared by Chuck Swindoll and Robert Jeffress (both from Texas) in response to the hurricane efforts, click here. For "5 Comforting Bible Verses for When Tragedy Strikes," click here.
Published: August 31, 2017