team leader: Debbie Smith
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine what it would be like to get 60 inches of rain in 5 days. Then realize that happened to the people of Southeast Texas over Labor Day weekend in 2017. Whole towns were underwater including some suburbs of Houston. All public utilities and transportation were impacted. Many homeowners thought they were safe until flood gates had to be opened on huge reservoirs north of their communities, and were even warned to evacuate, or write their social security number on their arm with a permanent marker so they could be identified. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, 185,000 homes were damaged and 9,000 homes were destroyed. Reports indicate a similar economic effect to Hurricane Katrina ($125 billion). Less than 20% of homeowners had insurance that covered flooding. Almost immediately, Hurricane Irma formed and hit Florida, then Hurricane Maria formed 2 weeks later devastating Puerto Rico. Texas did not stay on the radar of most of us for long. As your Youth Mission team travelled to participate in the recovery effort, even we who had studied the situation before we left found a 100 mile swath of Texas that is hurting badly to be devastating. We were able to form 2 work crews, with our major project being a home that was ready for interior paint, pre-hung door installation, and trim. We also completed a flooring project at the Family Life Center we stayed at, a flooring project and some other woodworking at a third site, interior painting of most of a house at a fourth site, and a small painting start at a fifth site. I believe that while the work was important to assist people to return to homes that they have not been able to live in since August of 2017, our simple message that a group from Ohio know what the situation is and cared enough about it to volunteer for a week of service was just as important. We did take Sunday off to explore our environment including worship with a great congregation at Beaumont First United Methodist Church, a short tour of the McFaddin- Ward House which is the home of an oil baron and his family frozen in time in 1950, and a trip to Galveston including an auto ferry ride after traversing the Bolivar peninsula. We also ask you to keep Brandi, Sue, Judy, Theo and Pancho, Donna, and Jessica and their families in prayer as they continue their quest to recovery.