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Hurricane relief afoot in Rio Grande Valley

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (BP)–Disaster relief volunteers from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention are providing meals and assisting in cleanup in the Rio Grande Valley after Hurricane Dolly hit the far south Texas coast July 23.

Baptist volunteers also are working in the Mexican border town of Matamoros across the Rio Grande from Brownsville.

SBTC feeding units have been serving in Rio Grande City and McAllen, about 70 miles inland, while assessment and cleanup teams are working in the coastal town of Port Isabel. First Baptist Church in Brownsville is housing the cleanup and assessment teams, with assistance from First Baptist Church in Port Isabel.

Meanwhile in Matamoros, the SBTC’s Operation GO Mexico ministry is working in cooperation with First Baptist Church in Brownsville and the Baptist Global Response relief and development organization.

“Hurricane Dolly brought torrential rains and devastating winds to the area,” Jim Richardson, SBTC disaster relief director, wrote in an e-mail. “Many of the families in Matamoros have been affected. First Baptist Church, Brownsville, and Operation GO are distributing rice and beans to those affected by Hurricane Dolly and sharing the hope of our Lord Jesus in the process.”

SBTC volunteers are cooking 10,000 meals a day for the Salvation Army canteens in McAllen, Richardson said. At First Baptist Church in Rio Grande City, volunteers prepared meals for the American Red Cross through the weekend.

Churches from the Gulf Coast westward toward McAllen assessed damage from the storm to their buildings and communities the day after the storm. The 200,000 people without electricity July 24 had dropped to about 125,000 by the weekend, according to news reports.

The cleanup and recovery work in Port Isabel, across the bridge from the South Padre Island resort community, yielded professions of faith from a husband and wife, said Julian Moreno, who is leading the assessment work there.

“It was our first work order in Port Isabel,” Moreno said. “The young boy in the home has been attending First Baptist Church, Port Isabel, but the parents have never attended the church, which is bilingual. So now the parents have made professions of faith and they plan to be at the church next Sunday.”

Moreno said the greatest needs in the coastal area around Port Isabel, where Dolly hit hardest, are chainsaws and blue tarps to cover houses and businesses damaged by falling trees and high winds.
Jerry Pierce is managing editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, online at www.texanonline.net.

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  • Jerry Pierce