Last year, Jose and Sandra (not their real names), 70-year-old Houston, Tex., residents, were hit with flooding not once but twice.
Several months later, they were still sleeping on damp mattresses in their severely damaged home. Their furniture and appliances had been destroyed, and mold was growing on their walls.
They were not alone. The Memorial Day flood (May 2015) and All Saints flood (Oct. 2015) brought immense destruction throughout Texas, leaving thousands in need.
Then Jose and Sandra met volunteers from World Renew’s Disaster Response Services (DRS) who were carrying out an assessment of unmet needs in Houston. The volunteers went door to door calling on residents. They also hosted several walk-in centers to interview as many people as possible and determine their ongoing flood-related needs.
“May 2015 was the wettest month on record for Texas,” said Judy Stoel, who led the assessment team with her husband, Denny. “Enough rain fell to cover the surface of the entire state with eight inches of water.
“Rain washed out roads, swamped neighborhoods, trapped cattle and forced 531 water rescues, mostly stranded drivers. Twenty-two people died and rivers were at flood stage at 108 locations.”
Just when it seemed a recovery was underway, another flood struck in October and brought more devastation to some of the same areas.
Following the assessment, World Renew referred many people, including Jose and Sandra, to case workers through the Greater Houston Storm Recovery Network. This group has resources and the ability to work with single-parent families, low-income families, people who are elderly or disabled, and other vulnerable groups in a variety of ways.
They needed help, however, to identify the people with unmet needs and get them connected to the appropriate programs. World Renew’s DRS volunteers filled the gap.
“When I hear about people living in mold-infested homes or low-income families not receiving enough insurance money to adequately meet their needs, I can’t help but think about what would have happened if we had not been there,” said World Renew DRS director Ron Willett.
“Would people have gotten the help they needed? Would some have gone homeless or had their health deteriorate because of mold?
“Thanks to volunteers who gave of their time, and churches and individuals who made financial gifts, World Renew was able to help this community identify its vulnerable residents and make sure their needs will be met.”
Following the success of the Houston needs assessment, community groups in Corpus Christi, San Marcos, and Hidalgo County, Tex., also invited World Renew to help them identify residents with ongoing flood-related needs. In addition, World Renew opened a long-term reconstruction site in San Marcos where skilled DRS volunteers serve for several months to repair and rebuild homes.
“Our volunteers bring their heart and soul to the work they do,” said Willett. “It is our prayer that not only will we be able to restore homes, but we can bring hope in Christ’s name to those who are suffering.”
World Renew DRS at a Glance
- Last year, 2,830 people from 27 denominations volunteered with World Renew Disaster Response Services.
- Combined, they gave 214,072 hours of their time to help disaster survivors; that’s roughly the equivalent of 102 full time employees for a year.
- Volunteers served disaster survivors in 20 states and two provinces.
- They assessed the needs of 5,529 disaster survivors and repaired or rebuilt 697 homes.
- To learn more, visit worldrenew.net/drs.
About the Author
Kellie Scholma, World Renew