August 2018 - Refugio Woman Receives New Home
80-year-old Adelia Resendez lost her 30-year-old Refugio home during Hurricane Harvey last year. After being denied by several other agencies, an ecumenical effort helped Ms. Resendez secure funding and volunteers to build her new home. Click here for more ...
February 2018 - New York Annual Conference ERT Visit
The following letter came from Cassandra Garcia, one of the recent ERT team leaders that visited from New York Annual Conference. It is a great testimony to the work that has been done, and still needs to be done along the Texas Coast:
It was twelve years ago since I first wore an UMCOR ERT badge. That was Katrina and it was Biloxi – East Biloxi to be exact - where the storm surge washed away everything in its path, including all the landmarks from my childhood memories in Mississippi. Now, another place and another time, I put the badge on again, knowing that God had called me once again to serve in south Texas. Hurricane Harvey devastated the Texas coastline from Corpus Christi to Houston and inland cities between, establishing a new normal for individuals who lived in this region. Five months later, many families are still out of their homes or living in gutted houses with bare floors and tarped 2x4’s as walls. In Victoria, TX alone, 19,000 families did not qualify for FEMA assistance. At Victoria’s First UMC, an energetic crew of case managers, construction supervisors and volunteer coordinators are working round the clock to help those who find themselves in the day-to-day “after Harvey” life. But, the ERT teams are beginning to “dry up”, the media has gone and life in parts of the city are getting back to normal. But, the new normal for many is not normal at all.
I was honored to lead Simsbury UMC’s Long-Term Recovery team from January 21-27th to Victoria. There, we were introduced to Silver City - a community of small wooden cottages covered with blue tarped roofs; memories of East Biloxi re-emerged in my head. Unlike Biloxi, these houses were filled with homeowners who, after the storm, returned to find damaged roofs that had sustained Category 3 hurricane force winds. Water poured in from the ceilings of their kitchens, bedrooms and family rooms, leaving personal belongings ruined. Having no place to go, they mucked out their homes and moved back in. Today, some remain gutted and some only partially repaired.
In the first home where we worked, the older couple resides in their home while reconstruction is taking place. Each hour, the elderly man would come in to check on our progress. Slowly, but surely, we began to see a smile emerge on his face as one ceiling panel went up, then another smile as we taped and mudded. On our last day, as we finished painting his bedroom and installed his closet system, we saw a different person – the same man that we met five days before, but a different person all together. Before we left, the team gathered in a circle with Marcus, the construction manager, and the homeowners to bless the home and to ask God to send other VIM teams to Victoria to finish the work that we were not able to complete.
Life goes on in Victoria, but the new after-Harvey normal is filled with challenges for so many. Victoria may look as if it’s back to normal, but inside the homes of Silver City community, it’s anything but that. From Corpus Christi through Refugio to Victoria, there is great need - a need that calls for the attention of Christians everywhere. May God call individuals to serve in this region, to be the hands and feet of Christ for those working so hard to find their normal once again.
March 2017 - Oak Hill UMC Disaster Recovery Team in Louisiana
Recently Oak Hill UMC sent a group of 15 people to Baton Rouge Louisiana to help with recovery work after the floods that devastated that state in 2016. They were there over spring break staying at St. Andrews UMC in the heart of one of the flooded areas. They saw many, many homes with debris in front and heard that many, many more owned by the poor, elderly and/or handicapped still await help. If anyone wishes to send a team, they should contact the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Team at http://www.louisianadisasterresponse.com/
February 2017 - Tornadoes hit South Texas
San Antonio Tornadoes
Emergency Response Teams Respond to Latest Storms
Antonio Garcia was picking up the remains of his backyard north of San Antonio, full of broken fences and collapsed trees, when someone from the Rio Texas Disaster Response team came and offered to put tarps on the roof of his home in the anticipation of future rainfall. Mr. Garcia told the team he could not afford to install the tarp. He was delighted when the team told Mr. Garcia there would be no charge.
Next week, Unidos will feature a video on Disaster Response, why this ministry is important, and how you can help in the case of disasters.
If you are in the San Antonio-area and would like to help in the aftermath of the Feb. 19 storm and tornadoes, please contact Eugene Hileman email@example.com
January 2017 - Check out the Rio Texas Conference YouTube Page for some great stories of families affected by disaster
May 2016 - Oak Hill UMC - "The Bucket Church"
It sometimes seems that rain in Central Texas is either famine of feast. After a record-setting dry spell that sparked wildfires throughout the region, Central Texas has experienced the reverse in weather patterns with numerous flooding events over the past three years.
Oak Hill UMC, like many of its sister churches, has stepped up to respond to brothers and sisters in need by providing boots on the ground at the disaster recovery sites helping to muck out what was destroyed and help in the process of rebuilding homes and lives. Read More at Stories - Continued
March 2016 - East Texas and Louisiana Flooding -
In the past 2 weeks, the Rio Texas Conference delivered over 1000 Cleanup Kits (Flood Buckets) for those affected by flooding. As a result, we have no more buckets in the warehouse. To find out how you can help, Email us.