Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 hurricane, first struck the Texas Gulf Coast on the evening of Aug. 25, 2017. After coming ashore, the hurricane stalled and remained a Category 3 hurricane for 5 days before exiting back out into the Gulf of Mexico. Fourteen counties in the Rio Texas Conference were impacted. Primary damage of the service area was due to wind. Many structures were destroyed completely while many more lost roofs in the initial storm or were damaged by falling limbs and trees. The first impact was bad enough, but the following five days of rain exacerbated the situation with extensive water damage to homes.
Our 8-person team from FUMC Allen served January 12-15, 2018. In Silver City, a neighborhood in Victoria, they saw firsthand the destruction the storm had caused. Our team served at Bruce’s house. Bruce had lived there for 40 years, through a few storms before Harvey.
In 2017, Bruce had two major surgeries – one for his knee and another for his hip. He was in the hospital recovering when Hurricane Harvey struck and was evacuated to Austin ahead of the storm. He wasn’t allowed to return for weeks and he had no idea what was waiting for him.
When he was finally able to return home, he found the roof severely damaged and the door looked as though it had been kicked in. Bruce’s neighborhood is not the nicest, and yet nothing had been stolen. But water had come in through the roof and damaged many rooms. Other teams had already ripped out the molding insulation and drywall, but that left Bruce’s home difficult to warm over this cold winter.
Our team replaced the insulation and installed the sheet rock to make Bruce’s home more livable. In addition, our team also tackled and solved a major plumbing issue. It was a lot of work in just two days.
But hundreds of homes in a 10-block area are in the same condition as Bruce’s. His own son lives just 3 blocks away, but has been unable to receive help since he is still waiting for an evaluation. It will likely be at least 8 years before this area makes a full recovery. And the United Methodist Church is the only organization still on the ground, working with residents and repairing homes.
On the last day of the mission trip, as our team packed up their tools and prepared to leave, Bruce asked, “When will you be back?” Perhaps he thought that they were just finishing up for that day and would be back again in the morning. It was hard to tell him that our trip was over. Instead, we said, “Not tomorrow, but soon.”
Thank you, FUMC Allen, for supporting this mission trip with your prayers and with the time and skills of the trip members: Mike Anderson, Mike Cole, Brady McQueeney, Pat McQueeney, Alan Quick, Anne Peri, Mike Schindler, and Ed Whipple. If you want to hear more stories of their time in Victoria, please ask!
We hope to have an ongoing relationship with the people of Silver City, that we might fulfill our word to Bruce and others like him. If you are interested in serving on a mission trip or would like to support our efforts in other ways, please contact Rev. Jessica Wright.