GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP)-- As U.S. and international aid agencies pour resources into the Bahama Islands and eastern United States in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, some southeast Texas homeowners still await relief from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey two years ago, according to Southern Baptists of Texas Convention pastors in the region. SBTC field ministry strategists Dennis Parrish and Sonny Hathaway serve Southeast Texas communities where Harvey damaged or destroyed 738,000 homes and 25-30 SBC churches, and more than 30 pastors' homes.
HOUSTON (BP) -- Pastor Gregg Matte of Houston's First Baptist Church jokes that for at least a month, the church's worship team didn't sing a single song. "But they were leading in worship," Matte said. Matte is referring to the month following the landfall of Hurricane Harvey -- a Category 4 storm that devastated the Texas coast in August 2017. During this time, Houston's First transformed its campus into a disaster relief command center of sorts.
SOUTHEAST TEXAS (BP) -- Hurricane Harvey swept disaster across the Texas Gulf Coast one year ago, first pummeling Rockport and Port Aransas with destructive winds, then stalling over Houston for three days before moving to the Golden Triangle with rainfall of up to 60 inches. Dozens were killed and thousands were displaced. Separate gatherings marking the anniversary of the disaster were held at Southern Baptists of Texas Convention churches the final weekend in August, the order of the three commemorations tracking Harvey's path through Rockport, Humble and Beaumont. Each event featured hot dogs, snow cones, outdoor games, music and speakers, SBTC Disaster Relief (DR) associate Wally Leverle said in describing the block parties.
HOUSTON (BP) -- Since Hurricane Harvey's Category 4 winds began battering the Texas coast a year ago, Southern Baptists have served more than 75,000 volunteer days to help the region recover. And they aren't done yet. Southern Baptists will continue to engage impacted areas for at least the next two years and likely beyond, said David Melber, president of Send Relief at the North American Mission Board (NAMB). "There are so many ongoing needs," Melber said. "Just because it was a year ago doesn't mean life is back to normal. There are still so many people without homes. We'll be there to help for as long as it takes."
HOUSTON (BP) -- One year later, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Executive Director Jim Richards and other SBTC leaders plan to commemorate the anniversary of Hurricane Harvey with prayer and fellowship gatherings scheduled for Aug. 25-27. Hurricane Harvey devastated the southeast coast of Texas and portions of Louisiana, dumping as much as 60 inches of rain in less than a week. Damage was estimated at more than $125 billion and one million cars were flooded beyond repair. Within days, Southern Baptist volunteers began mobilizing to meet the physical and spiritual needs of residents overwhelmed by flooding and wind.
HOUSTON (BP) -- Even after an EF-3 tornado -- one of 13 tornadoes to strike northern Alabama March 19 -- ripped through their college campus, tearing roofs off dorms, downing trees and damaging cars, Jacksonville State University students elected to remain in Houston to help hurricane victims rather than returning to assess their own damaged living spaces. It was not the spring break most expected. Then again, perhaps it was, at least in terms of mission and camaraderie.
GRESHAM, Ore. (BP) -- A hands-on Bible lesson took on a life of its own for 10-year-old Dallas Claytor after attending Sunday services with his parents and sister. Young Dallas heard pastor Keith Evans of Pathway Church in Gresham, Ore., preach about the parable of the talents. Evans used unmarked envelopes of money to hand out to unsuspecting volunteers during the sermon in denominations of $10, $20 and $50 each. He then asked each recipient to use the money to bless or encourage someone in coming days. "I got the envelope with $50 in it," Claytor said. "The pastor wanted us to multiply the money and make God proud. I was shocked."
REFUGIO, Texas (BP) -- In the town of Refugio -- with a population just under 3,000, located 55 miles north of Corpus Christi -- few structures emerged unscathed from Hurricane Harvey, whose winds ravaged homes and businesses in an already economically disadvantaged area. Yet hope appears to be alive and well in Refugio. High school football coach Jason Herring, contractor Brian Miller and a network of Southern Baptist churches and disaster relief (DR) volunteers want to keep it that way.
WASHINGTON (BP) -- Texas churches wishing to apply for federal disaster aid funds following Hurricane Harvey have until Feb. 4 to do so, according to a notice from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Though such funds long had not been available to churches and other houses of worship, FEMA announced a policy change Jan. 2 amid the pressure of a lawsuit by three small Texas churches and urging from both President Trump and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
WASHINGTON (BP) -- Churches whose facilities have been damaged by natural disasters now are eligible to receive relief funds from the federal government, according to a Jan. 2 announcement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). "Private nonprofit houses of worship will not be singled out for disfavored treatment within the community centers subcategory of [public assistance] nonprofit applicants," FEMA Recovery Directorate Assistant Administrator Alex Amparo wrote in a guide outlining the change in policy. The guide defines, among other matters, ...