Churches in Flooded Central Texas Counties Overflow With Compassion for Their Communities

Ross Chandler (left), pastor of First Baptist Church in Marble Falls, and Joe Henard, a Texas Baptist Men disaster relief volunteer from Paramount Baptist Church in Amarillo, examine a flood-damaged home after all soaked insulation and soggy sheetrock was removed. (Photo / Ken Camp)

The Colorado River and its tributaries overflowed their banks, flooding hundreds of Hill Country homes. In response, Baptist churches in Burnet and Llano counties overflowed with compassion for their hurting neighbors, providing disaster relief with the support of Texas Baptist Men.

“We are here to support the ministries of local churches and strengthen their missional presence in their communities,” said Dwain Carter, TBM deputy director of disaster relief.

TBM just completed most of its work in North Carolina after giving more than 11,000 volunteer hours in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and deployed much of its equipment and personnel to Florida, where volunteers continue to serve after Hurricane Michael. Even so, the missions organization sent eight mud-out crews, heavy equipment operators and an incident management team to Central Texas, along with volunteers to staff laundry and shower units.

Marble Falls church mobilized to minister
Early on Oct. 16, First Baptist Church in Marble Falls became the base for Texas Department of Public Safety’s aviation operation and for Texas Parks and Wildlife’s water rescue operation.

“We heard reports there was more rain coming, and we knew a lot of people were displaced,” Pastor Ross Chandler said.

So, First Baptist made its facility available as a shelter, borrowing mattresses from Highland Lakes Baptist Camp and from the Camp of the Hills.

“We had 165 beds set up at the church,” Chandler said, noting TBM sent a shower and laundry unit to support its shelter ministry. Church members served three meals a day and staffed an on-site hospitality center with coffee and snacks between meals.

First Baptist personnel organized a registration system both for people seeking assistance and for individuals who wanted to volunteer. By the afternoon on Oct. 17, volunteers mobilized and deployed by the church were helping with evacuations.

Chandler, who had received TBM disaster relief training and worked with mud-out teams before, recognized the need to intervene as early as possible to begin tearing out damaged drywall and flooring from homes and treating surfaces with disinfectant to mitigate mold.

So, a deacon from First Baptist began walking the streets in affected neighborhoods to assess damage and gather contact information from residents. The church’s technology department developed a comprehensive database from the information he gathered, and the church began dividing affected areas into zones.

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SOURCE: Baptist Standard, Ken Camp