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Disaster relief buoys Texas flood victims

HALTOM CITY, Texas (BP)–Disaster relief volunteers with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention continued working June 20 amid water-damaged mobile homes in suburban Fort Worth where at least one child died when she was carried away by rushing floodwaters during a rescue attempt.

Throughout north Texas early Monday, flash floods devastated parts of Tarrant, Denton, Cooke and Grayson counties, with damage most severe in Cooke and Grayson counties, from Interstate 35 near Gainesville east to Sherman, about 90 miles north of Dallas.

Damage to mobile homes in a six-square-block area of Haltom City, northeast of Fort Worth, sent dozens of families to seek shelter elsewhere.

As of June 21, six people were confirmed dead, including 4-year-old Alexandria Collins of Haltom City, who officials said was whisked away from her mother’s grasp as the two were trying to flee in a neighbor’s boat, and 2-year-old Makalya Marie Mollenhour, whose body was found late Tuesday about two and a half miles south of the Pecan Grove Mobile Home Park in Gainesville, NBC television affiliate KTEN in Denison reported.

KTEN said the mobile home the family lived in was washed off its base and struck a bridge.

The young girl’s grandmother, 60-year-old Billie Mollenhour, and her 5-year-old sister, Teresa Arnett, also died in the flooding.

Also among the dead is 74-year-old Reginald Gattis, a member of First Baptist Church in Sherman. The pastor of the church, Michael Lawson, said Gattis is survived by his wife and had been a member there for nearly eight years.

“In fact, he joined on the very same day we came there in view of a call — Nov. 14, 1999,” Lawson recalled.

Gattis was returning to Sherman in his pickup truck when the vehicle was overcome by water and he was unable to free himself, Gattis said.

Also, the home of another church member who was away in Colorado was overcome by high water, with the family’s car washed up against the back of the garage.

“They pretty much lost everything,” Lawson said.

The other identified victim is Patricia Beshears, a Denison woman killed Monday morning when her car stalled in floodwaters in Sherman.

Jim Richardson, SBTC disaster relief director, said the effort at the Skyline Mobile Home Park in Haltom City would last possibly a week.

“We are trying to get it as clean as possible in order to dry out so that some of these folks can begin returning to their homes,” Richardson said.

On Wednesday, a handful of SBTC disaster relief volunteers were continuing assessments among several dozen mobile homes in the lowest part of the neighborhood, which sits on a hill.

Nearby, two trailers sat nearly perpendicular to one another, with each 15-20 feet from where they stood before the waters washed them away. Behind the homes in a creek, one of the homeowners’ pickup truck rested partially submerged.

“What always strikes you is these are very poor folks,” said longtime disaster relief volunteer Paul Monroe of LakePointe Church in Rockwall, Texas. “Some of them are spending their nights here because they don’t have any other place to go. It breaks your heart. But that’s why we do this. It’s about the people. It’s not about the homes or the trees or whatever.

“We try to pray with all of them. Most of them are receptive. They know we care because they know we are doing this one our own time.”

For Scott Elledge, who said he owned 16 of the mobile homes in the neighborhood including the one he lived in with his wife and two children, the flooding Monday has moved the family to another home elsewhere for good.

The Elledge home was ruined not only by water but by methane gas, which leaked from the water pressure. One nearby mobile home exploded from a gas leak during the flooding, sending a mother and her son to the hospital, where they remained on Wednesday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Several times, Elledge expressed thankfulness of the work of the Southern Baptist volunteers, acknowledging that God has a reason for everything.
“This was my livelihood,” Elledge said. “Not anymore.”

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  • Jerry Pierce/Southern Baptist TEXAN