Houston—A flash flood on April 18 swamped Houston when as much as one foot of rain fell on the nation’s fourth largest city, claiming seven lives and making it the wettest day there since 1888.
Most of the victims died in their cars while trying to traverse flooded roads. An estimated 1,200 Houstonians required rescue assistance.
The city finally caught a break on Friday, April 22, their first dry day since the initial downpour, though rain returned on Sunday along with tornado warnings. Citizens reported tornado sightings in southeast Harris and Galveston counties.
Disaster relief teams from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and Texas Baptist Men are coordinating efforts in Houston.
A SBTC feeding unit operating out of the Humble Area First Baptist Church is supporting the American Red Cross’ shelters. Many Houston-area churches have requested training from SBTC for mud-out operations in homes.
“Many unchurched in our community are suffering from the floods,” said Barry Jeffries, senior pastor of Humble Area First Baptist Church. “Those we minister to are curious as to why we would help neighbors we don’t know. Doors open through disaster.”
Terry Henderson, TBM’s disaster relief director, has mobilized chaplains and assessors while also helping churches that have begun cleaning homes. Their base of operation is Copperfield Baptist Church in northwest Houston, which is surrounded by four subdivisions with an estimated 600 flooded homes.
Houston is home to Union Baptist Association, Southern Baptists’ largest association with approximately 600 churches. Tom Billings serves as the association’s executive director, and he said there are no reports of damage to any association churches.
“The experience of having your home flooded is devastating,” Billings said. “There is a real sense of helplessness as you watch the water rise and know there is nothing you can do to stop it.
“Many of the homes affected by recent flooding were in areas that had never flooded before, so there was also a sense of shock at being flooded out. Like the waters, though, the level of people’s compassion rises to the meet the need.
Meanwhile, the Louisiana Baptist Convention continues its recovery efforts there from earlier Gulf Coast flooding. David Abernathy, LBC’s disaster relief incident commander said recovery there is happening mostly in the northeast and northwest regions of the state. Kentucky Baptist disaster relief teams were among those to respond.
“After seven weeks, the response has been fabulous,” Abernathy said. “We couldn’t ask for more than what different states have given us.”
The disaster response based out of North Monroe Baptist Church will likely run through mid-May, Abernathy said. (BP)
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Report from Kentucky teams
serving in northwest Louisiana
First Baptist Church
Volunteer Days: 238
Volunteer Hours: 2,480
Ministry Contacts: 163
Chaplain Contacts: 312
Gospel Presentations: 6
Bibles Distributed: 83
Assessments Completed: 12
Mud-out/Flood Recovery Jobs Completed: 79
Roof Tarping Repair Jobs Completed: 1