Houston: Harvey Relief-Day 1

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power”-Ephesians 6:10

This week, we have a very diverse team in terms of age and ability. Some of us are young, while some are old. Some are men, some are women. Some of us have years of construction experience, while others are better at demolition. However, one thing that’s true for all of us, is that at the end of the day, we’re all tired and worn out from the work we’re doing, and we have to rely on the Lord’s strength to make it through the day!

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Today we went into a community that was hit by two different stages of flooding-the flooding from the rains, and then the additional flooding from the reservoir release. Many of the homeowners in this community didn’t have flood insurance because they were outside of the official flood plain. While many of the homes in this area had already been mucked out, the debris and possessions ruined by the flood couldn’t be placed close enough to the street to be picked up because people were mucking out houses before the floods had fully receded. The city (or FEMA) is collecting all the debris and taking it to landfills, but it must be within 10 feet of the curb in order to be picked up. There are quite literally giant mounds of debris and possessions on every front yard waiting to picked up.

We started our day by helping out a man named David. David and his wife waded through floodwaters with their two children and dogs on their shoulders to get to higher ground. When we arrived, their house had already been gutted and mucked out, but the piles of debris were too far from the curb to be picked up. So, our team joined another group who was serving from Wisconsin, and we moved everything closer to the street. While we were hard at work, we also took time to pray for David and his family. They are going to be making the tough decision of whether to stay and rebuild (raising the foundation of the house), or selling and moving. Please be in prayer for David’s family as they make this tough decision.

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After we finished with David’s house, we were introduced to a woman named Sally. Sally is one of those people who knows her neighborhood and all her neighbors like the back of her hand. Sally needed help moving debris closer to the curb in her own yard, but she was more concerned about helping her neighbors first. She sent us across the street to muck out an elderly individual’s garage, and I’m not sure we knew what we were getting into. Our first challenge was simply to get into the garage because the floodwaters has pushed the garage door off its tracks. When we finally were able to muscle the door up, we began the sad process of removing it’s contents. There were years and years of possessions ranging from tools to old appliances and shelving. Unfortunately, it sat long enough that mold was forming and remediation was no longer possible, so everything had to go to the curb. We never actually had an opportunity to meet the homeowner because it was an elderly individual, and their child was trying to protect them from the reality of the condition of the house. Please pray for that family, asking for peace, wisdom and discernment on how to share the bad news.

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As we finished up with that garage, our plan was to go and help Sally with her home, but a sudden reality set in for all the homeowners on her block-the dump trucks and cranes had arrived to begin picking up debris. There was a race against time to get everything within 10 feet of the curb so a house wouldn’t be skipped. Our team began splitting up into groups walking down the block armed with shovels and gloves asking homeowners if they’d like our help. Not many refused. At each house we went to, we paused to take time to offer prayer with the homeowner, and tried to enter into gospel conversations. Overall, I think we helped about six homeowners today. I know that may not seem like many people, but if we could weigh everything we moved, it probably totaled somewhere close to a ton. We could not have helped these people without the strength of the Lord by our side.

Please continue praying for the city of Houston. We are here to make an impact in this city-to heal their physical needs, but more importantly providing spiritual healing and hope in Jesus Christ. As you read this and go about your day, especially lift up David and his family, as well as Sally and her family. All of Houston needs prayer. These folks just happen to be the people we had the most contact with today. Please also continue to lift our team up in prayer. It’s only day one of five, and the work we’re doing takes a lot of energy and strength. We need to be relying on the Lord and his strength to make it through the week so we can keep making an impact here in Houston!