[Episcopal Relief & Development] Hurricane Harvey, the first major storm of the 2017 hurricane season, caused heavy rain and catastrophic flooding as it hovered over Houston, Galveston and other parts of Texas and Louisiana in late August. More than 60 deaths have been reported to date. This powerful storm first made landfall on August 25 as a category 4 hurricane with record rainfall. After downgrading to a tropical storm several days later, it devastated cities and towns throughout Texas.
Episcopal Relief & Development is working in partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas to provide gift cards to families in impacted communities along the southern Texas Coast. These gift cards will enable people to purchase food, water and basic hygiene products as well as cleaning supplies, power tools and other equipment.
In the Diocese of West Texas, thousands were forced to seek shelter and many have lost their homes. Several areas remain without electricity and a viable infrastructure and with no equipment and resources to clean up in the aftermath of the storm. Buildings have been destroyed with trees and power lines still down. It may take weeks and even months to fully assess the scope of Hurricane Harvey’s damage.
Katie Mears, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Director of the US Disaster Program, is visiting Texas this week to meet with leaders in the Episcopal dioceses of Texas and West Texas to survey and assess the coastal damage while continuing to implement disaster recovery plans and map out most urgent needs throughout the region. Mears is traveling with Deacon Elaine Clements, the Diocesan Disaster Coordinator for the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana and a member of Episcopal Relief & Development’s Partner in Response team, who will accompany diocesan and congregational leaders through the stages of long-term recovery.
“One of the strengths of our Church is its ability to identify where the greatest needs are in the community and leverage the strengths of our church partners who are intimately connected with their communities,” noted Mears, who will be in Houston and San Antonio this week.
Episcopal Relief & Development has also partnered with the Episcopal Diocese of Texas to respond to the immediate needs of people throughout the impacted region including Beaumont, Houston, Galveston and other areas. The diocese is providing temporary housing for families, recruiting volunteers to help clean out homes and deploying trained, spiritual care teams to reach out to people in shelters and in impacted communities. These teams are also distributing gift cards to help with purchasing food, basic supplies and other necessities.
“We have a tremendous amount of work ahead of us,” noted Mears. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and communities affected by this devastating storm.”
Donate to the Hurricane Harvey Response Fund to help Episcopal Relief & Development in responding to critical needs.
For bulletin inserts and other Hurricane Harvey resources, visit episcopalrelief.org/harvey