Since Hurricane Harvey’s Category 4 winds began battering the Texas coast a year ago, Southern Baptists have served more than 75,000 volunteer days to help the region recover.
And they aren’t done yet.
Southern Baptists will continue to engage impacted areas for at least the next two years and likely beyond, said David Melber, president of Send Relief at the North American Mission Board (NAMB).
“There are so many ongoing needs,” Melber said. “Just because it was a year ago doesn’t mean life is back to normal. There are still so many people without homes. We’ll be there to help for as long as it takes.”
In its scope and peak rainfall amounts, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported, Hurricane Harvey was the most significant rainfall event in recorded U.S. history. At least 197,000 homes were badly damaged, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Nearly four out of five households impacted by the hurricane did not have flood insurance, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Within days of the hurricane’s arrival on Aug. 25 of 2017, Southern Baptist volunteers in Texas and nationwide began mobilizing to serve the needs of survivors. Southern Baptists ministered to the region through two different responses that worked closely together.
Initially, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) coordinated teams of trained volunteers who cleared out flooded homes, provided meals, gave spiritual counsel and more. SBDR, which has the largest team of trained disaster response volunteers in the nation, has been serving the needs of disaster survivors for more than a half century.
Through Send Relief, Southern Baptists mobilized volunteers without specific previous training in disaster relief. Southern Baptists continue to send volunteers to the region through both mobilization channels.
“God has amazed us with his provision for Texas Southern Baptist churches over the past 12 months,” said Jim Richards, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC). “Our sister state conventions beyond Texas, churches, SBC entities and SBTC Disaster Relief volunteers were used mightily to restore ministries, comfort families and share the Gospel. God has glorified Himself here in South Texas. The work continues, but we are encouraged and grateful.”
While Southern Baptists have cleared out more than 2,600 flooded properties, completed close to 30,000 loads of laundry, and prepared 2.2 million meals for Hurricane Harvey survivors, many believe the most long-lasting impact of the response has come in spiritual terms.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press, Tobin Perry