The Houston Miracle
By Bill Terry
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On August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Rockport, Texas with waves pounding the Corpus Christi shoreline. Harvey, a Category 4 hurricane with wind speeds of 130 mph, dumped 27 trillion gallons of water over Texas. As a result, the city of Houston was inundated with over 50 inches of flood waters.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Harvey caused close to $125 billion in damages. World Vision reported the following statistics: 13 million people were impacted, close to 135,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, nearly one million cars were totaled, and 88 lives were lost. It was reported that in Houston alone, there was eight billion cubic yards of garbage. This astronomical volume would fill the Houston Texans’ football stadium two times over.
The areas of Webster and Alvin, Texas were surrounded by flood waters. Webster is home to Oasis of Hope, pastored by Jaime Trevino and Emmanuel Worship Center is in Alvin, pastored by Avelino DaSilva. On August 31, the Texas Latin Conference contacted Disaster Relief USA (DRUSA) and requested the assistance of the mobile feeding teams. DRUSA National Coordinator Bill Terry assessed the area and immediately mobilized the kitchen teams from North and South Carolina. Oasis of Hope welcomed DRUSA with open arms and provided a base of operations. During the ten-day deployment, over 35,000 hot meals were served in several communities in and around Houston.
One of the major challenges with this deployment involved transportation. Twice a day, volunteer teams would take prepared meals from the church to various locations around south Houston. Those who have helped with recent disasters know how difficult this can be; to locate where residents are currently sheltered and finding a safe route through devastated areas to reach them. While we are grateful to all our volunteers from the Texas Latin Conference, Bill Terry would like to say a special thank you to the many volunteers who provided workforce and vehicles to deliver meals throughout the deployment.
In September, DRUSA was contacted by Gary Burd, Director of M25. Gary was interested in partnering for an event with Disaster Relief USA and Run For The Wall. According to Gary, Run For The Wall was raising thousands of dollars for a project in February to assist homeowners who were displaced by the flooding. You might be asking, “Why are they preparing for a February 2018 response in September?” When multiple groups try to work together, and funds need to be raised, unfortunately, it can often take months for everything to come together. After the initial response in Houston, it was evident that Houstonians would be facing many months of recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
The target date for deployment was set for February 5-10, 2018. In October, Bill Terry established a planning team to organize various aspects of the response and determine which homes would be slated for repair. After two team meetings, it was decided that the three ministries would provide and coordinate 50 volunteers for Houston’s “Five Houses-in-Five Days.”
In November, DRUSA deployed a repair team from North Carolina for a pilot project for the February assignment. The homeowners for the project were members of Oasis of Hope IPHC in Webster, Texas. As with tens of thousands of homes in Houston, the renovation work consisted of insulating walls, hanging, and finishing sheetrock, trim work, and new flooring. This assignment provided general guidelines for the teams in February regarding necessary skills, talent, and equipment.
As 2018 began, excitement mounted as the search for volunteers reached a feverish pitch and funds were raised for “Five Houses-in-Five Days.” The plan was coming together! In late January, Bill Terry and Gary Burd made one final trip to Houston to meet with the strategic planning team. The projects were determined and the team spent a full day touring each home to understand the needs. Unlike our first deployment, it was determined that this time, our base of operations would be at Emmanuel Worship Center in Alvin. Thank you, Pastors Avelino and Lily DaSilva and the Emmanuel congregation, for providing volunteers lodging, meals, and fellowship.
A Message from Bill Terry
One passage of Scripture that is dear to me is Psalm 133:1, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” Seeing our volunteers, who had come from across the nation, work together for one week was a beautiful picture of unity. Each team consisted of volunteers from the different locations. Not once did we hear of any problems related to egos, hurt feelings, or confusion; just men and women committed to serving.
“Five Houses-in-Five Days” required the participation of many men and women with diverse skill sets. It is impossible to adequately thank all the volunteers who made the project successful. For the benefit of everyone involved, I would prefer not to list any names in case I unintentionally leave off someone. To everyone who represented DRUSA, Run For The Wall, M25, Royal Rangers, Men’s Ministries, Communication Services, and especially the Texas Latin Conference, thank you for a job well done!
I titled this article, “The Houston Miracle.” As I look back and reminisce on the two deployments to Houston, I cannot think of a better word than “miracle”. I marvel at the hand of God and His provision for making this dream become a reality. For a few days, 50+ volunteers came together in Houston and were used to make an unimaginable difference.