As fires continue to rage across Texas, the Somebody Cares network is lending a helping hand to affected communities.
Serving as the communication hub, Doug Stringer and the Somebody Cares Network of ministry partners pulled together to respond so needs expressed quickly became needs supplied. By Tuesday afternoon, the Somebody Cares Disaster Response network had assembled for a conference call with Bastrop county officials, local pastors and ministry partners. Within minutes strategic plans were put into place. The network is also responding to the fires in Montgomery, Grimes and Waller Counties.
When reports of mounting losses hit the news the Somebody Cares network was already in action.
- Pastor J.J. Ramirez of SOS Ministries and Somebody Cares Brazos Valley, dropped everything, and rushed to their aid. Along with another of our long time ministry partners, Mark Roye of Blood-n-Fire San Antonio, J.J. is currently embedded in Bastrop representing Somebody Cares to assist governmental authorities and local pastors through their Ministerial Alliance as they set up POD’s and begin to distribute goods that have been donated.
- Edward Smith and Gene Bounds of Victim’s Relief Ministry, mobilized chaplains to work in conjunction with officials and local shelters to provide trauma counseling to people who are coming to grips with the possible or total loss of all their belongings.
- The Austin Disaster Relief Network is pairing families who have lost homes with area churches committed to helping them rebuild their lives.
- Calls offering food, water, and other items are quickly directed to areas of need. One pastor (Kevin Harrison) in central Texas took in a bus load
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of supplies. Another Houston friend (Debbie Ojeda) offered her truck to take water and other supplies to the area.
- A Houston businessman donated 6 pallets of much needed medical respirator masks for those entering the burn zone to protect their health. Terry Gaskins, a faithful Somebody Cares volunteer, picked them up and is delivering them to the Bastrop area today. Churches partnering Somebody Cares Jasper/Newton County Chapter gave funds to purchase gift cards for families and work gloves for responders. One church even emptied its thrift store of all its goods to give to families that lost their own belongings.
The response has been wonderful. But the needs are still mounting and rebuilding lives will take a long time. Individual families are still being assessed and it is not yet known how many of these families have insurance to cover the cost of recovery. Many people had to evacuate with just moments notice due to the rapid spread of the flames, so they are in need of EVERYTHING. Some of the elderly even left behind their walkers and canes as officials helped them escape with their lives.
We are aware of at least six pastors who lost their homes and all possessions in the fires. And we have heard of one church which has 10 member families who have also lost homes. As able, Somebody Cares will assist these brothers and sisters in Christ.
The most urgent need is cash or gift cards. No clothing is needed at this time and since many of the families have not been allowed back into their community needs are still uncertain.
Please continue to pray for all those affected in Bastrop and other fire ravaged communities. Pray for protection for both those fighting these monstrous fires and those in harms way. Pray also for the organizations and partner ministries deploying to help. In the midst of an escalation of natural disasters, our resources, manpower, and capabilities to be first responders are spread thin. Coalition partners need food, fuel, finances, and other resources. We need God’s intervention and mercy, and ask Him for a multiplication of our fishes and loaves.
Together we can be the hands and feet of Christ to families who have lost everything.