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SBTC DR response to Texas storms marks ‘longest, most involved deployment’ since Hurricane Harvey

SBTC DR volunteers gather to pray at the North Houston mass feeding kitchen site. SBTC DR PHOTOS

HOUSTON (BP) — As spring storms pummeled Southeast Texas, including the greater Houston area, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief volunteers, with help from Baptist DR teams from other states, launched and maintained a steady monthlong response to the emergency.

The response included serving survivors and first responders with logistical support, hot meals, showers, laundry services, chaplaincy assistance, and recovery operations.

“This has been the longest and most involved deployment since Hurricane Harvey,” SBTC DR Director Scottie Stice said. “It’s involved a series of smaller events spread out over the state. We’ve been there to help.”

SBTC DR volunteers responded to April storms that impacted Trinity, Polk, San Jacinto, Walker, Montgomery, Liberty, and East Harris counties in Southeast Texas. They also served survivors of a May storm event in Hardin County and, as of this writing, are on standby status to respond to a tornado that hit the Temple/Belton area in May.

The disasters keep coming.

On May 24, SBTC DR feeding volunteers using the kitchen at Flint Baptist Church fed 160 first responders and members of the public affected by a tornado in Palestine. That work continued on May 25.

“We’ve been busy, and we continue to be busy,” Stice said. “DR response can be a moving target.”

Helping Houston

The greater Houston area prompted the largest response of the spring to date. With their main base of operations set up at Spring Baptist Church in Spring, SBTC DR and Arkansas Baptist DR teams provided showers and did dozens of loads of laundry in addition to completing clean-up at 12 homes and chainsaw work.

Also in Houston, Clay Road Baptist Church continues to offer survivors shower and laundry services.

In North Houston, SBTC DR teams continued their groundbreaking partnership with the Salvation Army, staffing a mass-feeding kitchen site. Teams contributed 2,220 volunteer hours to prepare 20,235 meals distributed by Salvation Army personnel. In addition to mass-feeding operations from large field kitchens, SBTC quick-response mobile unit workers spent 320 volunteer hours preparing and serving 1,017 meals to Salvation Army and other SBTC DR volunteers.

Outside the Bayou City

SBTC DR volunteers also supported the San Jacinto County Shelter, providing 997 showers and doing 236 loads of laundry until May 24.

Chainsaw and recovery teams from First Baptist Bellville responded to needs in their community, northwest of Houston, by completing 27 jobs, logging 18 heavy equipment hours, and contributing 240 volunteer hours.

SBTC DR equipment and teams additionally set up headquarters at Central Baptist Church in Livingston on May 12. Since then, more than 746 meals have been served, 268 showers provided, 92 loads of laundry done, and 56 home cleanup requests completed with 10 more pending. SBTC DR teams alone have clocked 3,820 volunteer hours at Livingston in a deployment which also involved Baptist DR teams from Oklahoma and Florida.

At the American Red Cross shelter set up at Cleveland ISD’s Pine Burr Elementary school, SBTC DR teams from the Top O’ Texas Association continue to staff a shower and laundry unit as they have since May 16.

“Pine Burr houses the largest Red Cross shelter at the moment,” Stice said. “Our volunteers have done a phenomenal job here as elsewhere … [with ] lots of ministry, lots of Gospel conversations, lots of encouraging folks.”

Also in Cleveland, SBTC DR and other state Baptist volunteers based at Calvary Baptist Church began cleanup operations which were suspended on May 25 until floodwaters recede.

At Huntsville, an SBTC QRU and volunteers supported the shelter established at the H.E.A.R.T.S. Veterans Museum of Texas until May 6, while at Liberty County, an SBTC DR shower and laundry unit supported survivors from May 7-13.

Cleanup operations based at Coldspring in San Jacinto County, staffed by Baptist DR teams from Arizona and New Mexico, also took place, with operations closing May 25.

Meanwhile, in Hardin County, SBTC DR teams served 30 volunteer hours, cleaning out three damaged homes.

“It has been a very busy spring,” Stice said, expressing thanks not only for SBTC DR volunteers who give so much but also for the out-of-state teams who came to help Texas survivors.

“We appreciate the prayer and financial support of SBTC churches through the Cooperative Program and Reach Texas giving,” he added.

This article originally appeared in the Southern Baptist TEXAN.