UMCOR Callout to Victoria, Texas on February 22 – 25, 2018
We spent three days in the Coastal Bend with seven volunteers from FUMC Round Rock and one from FUMC Georgetown, helping with the recovery stages of Hurricane Harvey. Harvey caused at least 108 confirmed deaths, with damage estimated at $125 billion, making it among the costliest natural disasters ever in the United States. The Department of Public Safety estimates more than 185,000 homes were damaged and 9,000 destroyed, with a significant portion representing uninsured losses.
Our team drove down through intermittent rain on Thursday and again camped in the First United Methodist Church in downtown Victoria. The first client’s house was in Port Lavaca, a half hour’s drive away from our host church. The house required roof tarping, drywall and paneling removal, and treatment with mold control spray. She has been living with her daughter an hour away since the hurricane.
The roof was completely destroyed in some places, and barely hanging on in others. She lives by herself and family members did attempt to tarp the roof, but it just did not hold. Yes, there’s is a correct way to apply a tarp (see photo). Our team did a great job of getting the roof tarped, despite awkwardly high winds gusting over 20 mph. We had one team member on the roof helping to keep the tarp from billowing while the rest of the team was on the ground tightening it up and securing it in place. We worked for almost eight hours over two days to get the tarp in place, just in time for the hard rain that second evening.
Once the roof was covered, we removed all the molded drywall in the ceiling and walls, then followed up with mold control spray. Soon after we started, the client called and had her water turned back on and drove back to her daughters house to get her clothes. She said “I am spending the night in my house again”. A neighbor walked over to thank us for getting this homeowner back in her house.
On another site we visited, the roof was mostly ok, but wood had been blown away underneath the eaves and water had been blowing in. We repaired the exterior, removed and replaced the drywall, and even helped remove some wasp nests! Several other members of our team were at a second site that day, helping to patch a metal roof. The homeowner helped sweep the roof top for us!
We also visited the trailer of an older gentleman on oxygen. He rode out the storm in his mobile home and then tarped his roof by himself the next day. He was then without power for a week. His roof still needs to be repaired and he has black mold in almost every room in the home. We assessed his needs and documented them for a later team to respond.
For these homeowners, we were just in time! For many more still waiting for help, it sure seems like it’s way too late.
There are still SO many that need help. It has been six months since this disaster and there are still damaged houses with leaking roofs, water damage, black mold, etc. Many have sought shelter with friends or relatives, and some are just toughing it out in moldy, leaking houses. As you drive through these small coastal cities, the evidence of the hurricane is everywhere. Houses still damaged, trees down, roads with huge holes and piles of debris. No wonder so many have lost hope.
BE that hope! Helping those recover from a disaster does not always mean you have to swing a hammer. Many times, all that is needed is a listening ear and a caring heart. For example, we assisted a single mom and her daughter by replacing waterlogged ceiling. She lost her dad a month ago and one of our volunteers spent time listening to her work through some of the emotions. A lot of those affected by these disasters just need to know someone still cares by taking the time to actually sit down and lift some of the burden.
If you are still reading and feel like you would like to help, but can’t go on the trips, bake a breakfast or dinner casserole, freeze it, and send it with a team. These would be great for the volunteers to be able to heat up after a hard days work. Snacks and baked goods are much appreciated. If you are a pet lover, then keep a volunteer’s pet for the weekend, so they can save that expense. Help your volunteer teams be the hands and feet of Christ.
Our next callouts will be March 22-25, 2018 and April 19-22, 2018.
UMCOR is holding basic ERT Training at First Church on April 7, 2018. Visit the UMCOR website to sign up!
For more information, contact Dave Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 11 is Worldwide UMCOR Sunday at First Church – Round Rock. UMCOR is supported 100% by donations. Please give generously to support UMCOR’s worldwide mission.
By Brenda Scott and Trisha Seguin