Hurricanes Harvey and Irma — in terms of physical size and costs — were two of the largest on record. More rain fell during Harvey than during any other storm in recorded history. Because of Irma’s massive size, it wreaked havoc all over the state of Florida, at one point covering the entire peninsula, east to west.
As cleanup efforts from both storms transition to rebuilding efforts, Mission to North America’s Disaster Response is sending out volunteers in Houston and throughout Florida to offer mercy in Jesus’ name.
In Texas, three PCA churches sustained catastrophic damage to their buildings, and at least 60 PCA families and several pastors were affected.
Houston Has a Problem
While Disaster Response is still calculating the extent of the damage in and around Houston, three PCA churches sustained catastrophic damage to their buildings, and at least 60 PCA families and several pastors were affected.
Three PCA churches in Houston serve as staging areas for the cleanup and recovery ministry. Spring Cypress PCA stores supplies, while Grace Woodlands and Christ the King churches are staging volunteers.
Disaster Response facilitator Sherry Lanier said there is lodging at Grace Woodlands and Christ the King for up to 50 volunteers. She noted that Disaster Response has opportunities for even more volunteers who don’t need a place to stay. Work crews in Houston are mucking out flood-damaged buildings, a process that involves marking one foot above the floodwater line and removing everything below that line.
Irma All Over
In Florida, Disaster Response has volunteer staging sites in Jacksonville, Naples, Marco Island, and Bonita Springs. Volunteers have cleared debris from roads, cut or removed fallen trees, secured tarps over roofs, and mucked out flooded houses.
Keith Perry is a Disaster Response specialist and the site coordinator for Florida. Irma is the largest storm he has seen in nearly 10 years with Disaster Response — staging sites in Florida being nearly 350 miles apart testifies to the enormity. But a huge storm means huge opportunities for churches to help.
Perry has logged thousands of miles up and down the east and west coasts of Florida managing supplies and encouraging churches to send work crews. With work sites across much of the state, Florida churches have opportunities for day and weekend trips to serve.
Throughout the fall, crews in both states will continue to work to bring stability to communities. After six to eight weeks of disaster response, the work turned to disaster recovery, helping individuals rebuild their lives. Lanier said disaster recovery work continues as long as it takes to help a family recover.
Disaster Response is looking for self-contained volunteer teams to serve in Houston and Florida, as well as financial donations (particularly for the Irma relief work), and donations of flood buckets to the Disaster Response warehouse in Rome, Georgia. All volunteers must register at pcamna.org/disaster-response.