World Vision’s assessment team started the day off bright and early at Gateway Community Church in Houston, where volunteers from five churches were in the process of setting up a base camp of operations to manage Hurricane Ike relief efforts. The assessment team dropped off many cleaning supplies for the crews to take with them as they do their cleaning jobs.
Pastor Mike Malkenes says the supplies will be helpful. He appreciates how World Vision was there to help them during Katrina relief efforts and is here now during Hurricane Ike. He explains why he thinks it is important for the church to be involved this way: "When you open up the book that’s what it says to do. The underlying theme is it’s not about you, it’s about serving and helping others. Just like when Katrina hit, this is an opportunity for the church to have it’s finest hour and to come out and show the community that we’re not just a social club inside this building [but] that we’re the hands, and feet, and heart of Jesus Christ."
Jackie Bearden’s home suffered extensive damage in the storm. Mattresses, lamps, and even a giant stuffed dog sit out on the front curb. The storm ripped shingles off the roof. Inside, many areas of the ceiling had collapsed as the water came in through open areas in the roof. Sopping wet, pink insulation littered the floor in almost every room.
When Liz Bearden, Jackie’s aunt, saw the cleaning supplies World Vision had dropped off, she exclaimed, “Oh how awesome!” One of the volunteers answered her, “It’ll smell good.” Liz put on some vinyl gloves, also in the shipment from the assessment team, “I’ve been needing gloves,” she said as she worked them onto her fingers.
It soon became apparent why she needed the gloves. She worked to wipe up some of the insulation in a bedroom. She pulled out a soaked pair of pants, wrinkling her nose at the smell. Then out came a stack of school books—water damaged beyond usability.
The team headed off to another church, Gloria Dei. This is a church World Vision hopes to use as a distribution point in the Houston area, when World Vision’s Storehouse delivers more supplies as part of the recovery and rebuilding phases in helping victims of Hurricane Ike.
In the early afternoon, the team pulled up at Greater First Baptist Church in downtown Houston. As if by magic, people begin arriving to help unload the truck. At first each person carried a box into the fellowship hall. But then they formed a chain and passed the packages of supplies along in an efficient manner.
One of the volunteers, Eva Bosley says the supplies will be a big help because “even the little money you do have is stretched so far [during disasters.]”
Greater First Baptist Church pastor, Rory Thompson, greets fellow pastor, Stanley T. Hillard. He shares that Pastor Hillard’s church lost most of its roof in the storm. Then he promises Pastor Hillard that they will be sharing the supplies with his parishioners as well—even if that means delivering the supplies themselves.
Pastor Thompson says, "These products will help tremendously because we’ve had individuals that have suffered total loss."
Pastor Hillard says, "It’s been a tough week, but we’re pulling together thanks to people like you, World Vision, who see the need and who literally come to rescue us. We really appreciate everything that World Vision is doing and what it’s done in the past and what it continues to do to minister to hurting people all over the country."
Looking ahead, the leader of World Vision’s on-the-ground disaster team, Phyllis Freeman says that she hopes to send another assessment team next week to try to get to the as-of-now difficult to reach areas of Texas City and Galveston to see the damage there first-hand. Then the assessment teams will make long-term plans for how to best support churches in their efforts to rebuild along the Texas coast.
As Hurricane Ike fades from the news, the work required to return to some semblance of normalcy does not diminish. People continue the slow clean up process. Then their thoughts turn to rebuilding. And World Vision will be there to stand beside them and support those efforts.
Posted by Laura Reinhardt and Tom Costanza on assignment in Texas. Tom is Video Creative Director for World Vision in the United States. Laura is Assignment Editor for World Vision in the United States .