Hey pals, as many of you know but most of you may not, I’ve spent the last week with a team from Adventures in Missions (AIM) doing disaster relief in the Greater Houston area. Our team of ten partnered with Dream Center Gulf Coast and Lakewood Church to help homes begin entering the rebuilding stage. There will be another blog posted soon about all the things the Lord spoke into this process and the things He did throughout my team over the course of the week, but for this blog, I really want to focus in on the behind the scenes of immediate and long-term disaster relief and the importance of volunteers, particularly the urgent need for them in Houston right now.
The neighborhood we were working in was a solid hour and 45 minutes from the coast so as far as Harvey goes, they didn’t really feel much of the surge, though they did experience flooding from different sources. This suburb, like many others, suffered from flooding caused by the controlled release of emergency reservoirs originally designed to prevent flooding in downtown Houston. As homes filled with water, the number of people being left temporarily homeless rose. At the start, volunteers came rushing in from all over the country wanting to help and many other organizations were present and hands-on. Homes were quickly gutted as people began piling their now damaged belongings out in the yard and in the streets. If this weren’t the case, driving down the street, it would be near impossible to tell that the homes even experienced any damage at all. As weeks passed, volunteers returned home and relief organizations headed down toward the coast. Then Irma. Jose. Maria. Fires raged across the pacific northwest and in other places. Life happened and the process began to slow. When we showed up in Houston, one of the first things they told us is that if we aren’t coming, no one is coming.
Let me say that again. Volumes of homes in the Houston metro area are ready to enter into the rebuilding stage, some of which can afford contractors and construction workers, some of which lack flood insurance, some of which are choosing to do everything themselves. Regardless, they need hands that are ready to get dirty. And if we aren’t coming, no one is coming.
I had even forgotten about Houston for the most part as I watch the next storm rip up the Florida coast. But we can’t forget. There are people who need help. We simply can’t forget.
For the week I was there, we worked on only one house. After being trained how to complete projects according to Texas building codes and with excellence in general, my team worked mainly on installing, taping and floating dry wall throughout the home. It went smoothly, but that isn’t always the case. Any time a team encounters termite damage or mold, both of which are extremely common in the case of flood damage, a professional is needed and more money is put into the reconstruction of the house. We want this. We want the rebuilding process to be done correctly because we care about the family and the fact that this is their home. We want them to be able to live there for a long, long time afterwards.
Another thing the partnership between AIM, DCGC and Lakewood does so well is cater to the family emotionally and spiritually. We go into process of rebuilding with sensitivity toward the family and awareness of the fact that anything in that home could potentially have immense significant value to them. We don’t want to walk into a home and take a hammer to their memories all in the name of business and reconstruction. We go in with a spirit of gentleness and love, both of which open doors for conversations that change lives. Every time. This I can promise.
All this to be said, there is still an urgent need in the downtown Houston area. The area affected by Harvey and post-Harvey events directly caused or instigated by the hurricane have been allotted 15 years for rebuild. To put this in perspective, Katrina victims were given 12. The city saw a 500 and 1000 year flood. It’s people are crying out and so many have lost everything.
Look down at your hands. If we aren’t coming, no one is coming.
**I’m usually really strict on sources but all the information above comes from information I was given while on site this week. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions.
I will list below the links to both AIM and DCGC pages. If you want to help and just aren’t sure where to start or where to donate – please consider volunteering your time or money to one of these three organizations. How much is it really costing us?
Another blog coming soon on the radical things the Lord spoke over this week and these teams!!