News Articles

Churches assess damage day after Dolly

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (BP)–Wind and heavy rain continued from what remained of Hurricane Dolly Thursday in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas while churches from the Gulf Coast westward toward McAllen, 70 miles inland, assessed damage from the storm to their buildings and communities.

Meanwhile, a disaster relief team from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention was en route to Brownsville, Texas, to assess storm damage. About 200,000 people were without electricity Thursday afternoon, according to news reports.

Janice Young, a member and bookkeeper at Portway Baptist Church in Brownsville, spent Tuesday night and all day Wednesday at the church, which sheltered about 60 people who rode out the storm there.

Brownsville is about 20 miles west of the Gulf Coast resort area of South Padre Island, which absorbed heavy damage from hurricane winds exceeding 100 mph and up to a foot of rain in places, the Associated Press reported.

“We had some damage on the steeple and water damage inside the church,” Young said. “We lost a couple of ceiling tiles and the rug was wet from the entrance to about three pews back. It’s a mess around here.”

The storm also damaged Young’s mobile home and knocked out electricity in her neighborhood.

The church was planning to begin distributing food to area residents through its food bank Thursday.

“I’m sure we are going to be very busy,” Young said.

In McAllen, pastor Luis Canchola of Cornerstone Baptist Church said his city was not as heavily hit as Brownsville to the east, but the damage was notable.

“We meet in a plaza, and there was some damage to the roof. The landscaping around it was damaged, trees uprooted, marquee blown out all in pieces this morning. As far as the interior of the church, thank God, it’s OK.”

Canchola said church members placed 50-pound sandbags around the entrances to the space where the church meets to prevent water damage.

Bob Alderman, pastor of First Baptist Church in Rio Grande City, said the hurricane was expected to move right over his town but instead passed to the north.

“We caught the southern edge of it. At 9:30 this morning, my rain gauge showed five and three-quarter inches of rain,” Alderman said. “We had some winds blow branches out of trees. Some areas in town are flooded, but only the real low-lying areas. We had one shingle blow off. We feel pretty blessed.”

But Alderman said the floodwaters to the north were expected to flow south toward the Rio Grande Thursday night, potentially flooding Rio Grande City.

SBTC disaster relief director Jim Richardson said that after needs are assessed in the area, the convention’s DR teams likely would dispatch for cleanup and recovery ministry.

“Tomorrow, we should be able to go out and assess the neighborhoods and the city of Brownsville,” said Julian Moreno, who is heading the SBTC’s assessment team.
Jerry Pierce is managing editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

    About the Author

  • Jerry Pierce