Ministering to Flood and Tornado Victims In Texas
When record floods hit Southeast Texas in March, Somebody Cares Jasper-Newton Counties jumped into action. A shelter was opened at the First Baptist Church of Kirbyville for 15 days, where residents were also given assistance with personal needs. They then began surveying the community in partnership with area churches and found thousands of homes were flooded, some of which have now been condemned.
Somebody Cares has been working hard to meet as many needs as possible. As you can image, the opportunities to minister the love of Christ through tangible expressions of compassion are numerous. In the midst of the disaster, Somebody Cares is also sharing the greatest gift of all–the testimony of the love of Jesus–with many precious souls. Pastor Charles and Beverly Burchett from SCJN and the First Baptist Church of Kirbyville shared some of these accounts through the following stories.
Although he lived in an area that was not in a flood zone, Mark woke up Wednesday morning, March 9, to water rising in his bedroom. A disabled military veteran with a heart condition, Mark had no choice but to wade through water over four feet deep to reach a rescue truck on the flooded county road. While staying as a guest in the shelter provided by SCJN and the First Baptist Church of Kirbyville, he learned he had lost his residence, water well and well pump, vehicle, mower, and most of his household items.
After the shelter closed, Somebody Cares helped Mark assess his home and determined it was not livable; it has since been condemned. Somebody Cares helped him by buiding a small deck where he could pitch a tent and stay on his property during the clean-up process. Working with the electric company to provide a power supply for the tent, SCJN also delivered a full complement of camping equipment to meet his basic needs and helped him apply for a portable living facilitiy, which will be a vast improvement over the home he was living in prior to the flood. Mark has also been connected to Pastor Terry Walter and the Live Oak Church of God in Christ to help continue with the physical, emotional, and spiritual support he will need for the long-term process of recovery and rebuilding. Live Oak had earlier received a commercial dehumidifier from Somebody Cares to dry out their building which had also been flooded.
A self-employed tree-service worker, Billy has learned to look to and lean on the people of Somebody Cares and the First Baptist Church of Kirbyville for wise counsel and loving help. He experienced that unconditional love every day at the shelter, and now comes to the Somebody Cares office to enjoy the blessing of a compassionate listening ear, counsel, and selfless fellowship.
When Billy returned to his 28’ travel trailer and rented RV space, Someobdy Cares provided Shockwave to help him meticulously clean and disinfect it, along with plenty of bleach and a lot of “elbow grease.” We are also working to move his trailer from its flooded location to an RV space on higher ground.
Sam and Christine Walker
When Pastor Charles Burchett met Christine and Sam, they had nearly lost hope. The Sabine River not only flooded their Deweyville home, the swift water shifted the pier and beam foundation. SCJN gave Christine gift cards to immediately replace household and personal essentials, and Pastor Burchett prayed for her family and their future. A few days later, he delivered a commercial dehumidifier and a window AC unit to the Walkers, in the name of Jesus. Other Somebody Cares team members called and visited the Walkers to pray with them and encourage them to stay connected to their pastor and their church family at Calvary Baptist Church in Deweyville, another church that received a dehumidifier from Somebody Cares. With renewed hope, the Walkers are waiting to learn from their insurance company if they will be leveling and rebuilding their home.
In the midst of flood recovery, Tyler and Jasper Counties were also hit by three tornadoes in May. Having developed good working relationships with government leaders, law enforcement officers, and national agency directors, Somebody Cares Jasper-Newton Counties was contacted with names of people in need, including Alice Brock. A tornado left a tree on this little disabled widow’s home and a limb of the tree went through her roof.
Pastor Burchett and Somebody Cares teams visited Alice, assessed her roof, and connected her to a local pastor and church family to help with tree removal and patching the roof. When new flooding occurred, Somebody Cares helped with her swift water rescue, provided a motel room for her and her pet, and ultimately repaired her roof and other property damage.
Jimmy and Karen North
Jimmy and Karen were also referred to Somebody Cares by local government leaders after tornadoes hit their home. After an initial visit, Pastor Burchett has become their pastor and Somebody Cares Jasper-Newton Counties has provided all the materials Jimmy has needed to repair and rebuild their mobile home.
First Baptist Church of Deweyville, a flood relief partner with Somebody Cares, heard of a grandmother who has been caring for her seven grandchildren in a hotel room for over 10 weeks because she was not able to muck out her home. Church members set aside their own home repairs to work on this grandmother’s home, and Somebody Cares provided her with gift cards to purchase what she needs to care for the grandchildren. Pastor Burchett delivered a dehumidifier to help dry out the house, and a volunteer team will help rebuild the inside of the home. This grandmother is also connected with the Body of Christ in Deweyville, who will minister to the family’s spiritual and emotional needs as well.
Because of the generosity of our donors and a special grant from Mercury One, Somebody Cares provided personalized assistance to these and hundreds of other individuals and families who suffered great loss from the unprecendented flooding in Southeast Texas. Many have a very long road to recovery but they now have hope and tangible help for the days ahead. Thank you for caring!
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those assisted.