Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ike Day 3

Today as I drove through Galveston, I felt as if I had been thrown back 3 years… looking into homes filled with mud and water soaked belongings, refrigerators washed out of homes and floated out along the causeway, enormous debris piles along the road… and then the smell of it all.

Hurricane Ike has had a serious impact on the EFCA Churches and body in the Houston/Galveston area. We are seeing a ‘Katrina-like’ need for funds to help support the local churches and body through recovery, and to support them in their desires to outreach to the community in the wake of the storm. It has also resulted in major impacts in the Gustav impact area we had been working in the last few weeks in LA. The amount of Ike damage is massive.

In Southern La, the damage report is 15,000 flooded houses and 700 flooded businesses.
We are making plans to mobilize our team and resources to support the ongoing needs in New Orleans, and new needs in Houma and TX.

We started Ike Day 3 working with Trinity Fellowship, as their teens mobilized to help a member of the church and then reach out into the community. We met an elderly man the youth were helping, he had no idea how he was going to manage the trees that fell in his yard. Another neighbor sent us to him.

We then headed into Galveston. As we drove over the causeway, we saw large piles of debris left as the waters receded. Boats were washed up on the roadway. Homes and businesses in ruins. We found the Galveston Bible Church and a remnant of the church was there starting the grueling cleanout process. They were hauling out the water soaked chairs and placing them in the front yard. Other guys were trying to get the sheen of mud and standing water off of the hardwood floors. The sanctuary had 2 feet of water. The nursery and other Sunday school rooms hade 4 feet. An inch of water still stands in the lower area.

We then headed out to assess the church members homes. We found the vast majority having had some impact from the waters. As we traveled through one deserted looking neighborhood, we came upon an older couple who stayed for the storm. They had a tired glaze in their eyes. As the water rose the headed up into their attic. They spent over 24 hours there, and came down to find 4 feet of water had flooded their home. It had flooded both of their cars, so they had no transportation. No way to get out for food and water, but they said that all they needed was a pack of matches to light their camping stove so they could have a warm meal. We gave them a lighter and then prayed for them. They are going to continue to live in their water soaked home until their son from NM can find a rental truck and car to come and get them. The devastation has a very real human face.

The ongoing stress in the broader region from being out of power is showing as well. We have seen 2-3 hour long lines at the very few stations with gas. We saw a line for drive through at a fast-food restaurant that had gotten power stretching well out onto the street and down the road. Some areas will be out of power for weeks more.

God has been with us in every step. All day, my phone hardly had service. Not even email or text. This evening, we were in Baytown dropping off supplies for the church plant there, in an area with no electricity. I was using an inverter in the car to power my laptop while working on the attached report in the car, when I noticed that the ‘you have new mail’ box popped up on the screen. Other than a miracle of God, I have no explanation as to how I got an internet signal in the middle of a parking lot outside of a blacked-out, boarded up mall, in a region with no electricity. But that is exactly what happened. My inbox filled with 40+ emails from the day. Then my phone, which had no service, also started to buzz as emails and texts missed from the day began to come in.

The night before, we had worked to cut trees from two people’s driveways who were blocked in, working until dark. We had not made arrangements for the nights lodging nor food for dinner. As we headed back to Trinity Fellowship, I pulled out a number a family had given to me. Earlier in the day, they offered to open their house for us to stay in, but were direct in telling us that they had no electricity. When we called them that evening about their offer, they excitedly told us that just 15 minutes earlier, the electricity had been restored. So we have been able to sleep in air conditioned comfort with hot showers.I am thankful for my Father’s demonstration of His Power, and His favor extended to me.

John Horst reported this regarding S. LA: This is a community in need. Almost every house has trees down or on them. Ms. Moses who is 95,gets her exercise by walking in her back yard, which she obviously cannot do at the moment. We are working at getting at least an area cleared for her to walk a bit. Right next door to her are three precious children: Miracle, Tonie, and Taquel. I had a chance to share drinks with them and talk with them for a while. When I asked Miracle if she knew why her parents had named her that, she shared with me that she had a twin who had died. I believe she meant that her twin was still born. I hope to connect with them again tomorrow.

At a meeting this afternoon of crisis responders, I heard individuals from quite a few organizations all expressing the same fear: "Because of Texas we are going to be forgotten." They have already seen some relief agencies pulling out to head over to Houston. Feeding stations are being shut down, and resources are being diverted. They are wondering what they can do to keep Terrebone Parish on the radar screen. After the meeting, I stopped by the recovery office and was handed a stack of a dozen or so work orders for tree cutting. Jane, one of the workers at TRAC, told me she had 60 phone messages from today she hadn't even gotten to yet. There are many people with the need to have the love of Christ expressed to them in very tangible ways. Pray that God would burden people's hearts to come and serve.

This is going to be a long road.
Pray for us :
1. Being able to encourage and serve the local church pastors and their congregations.
2. Effectively planning and mobilizing the available resources for healing and restoration and maximum ministry impact.
3. God to raise up the workers to minister the Gospel.
4. For the supplies and finances needed to meet the immediate needs of these churches and their communities.
5. For Body of Christ to respond to Ike and Gustav, while staying committed to restoration of post-Katrina New Orleans.

1 comment:

The Sherwoods said...

Go guys go... we're behind you all the way and are praying for your safety and sucess! Thx for the blog updates.

The Sherwood Family