By Message Staff
ALEXANDRIA (LBM) – As Tropical Storm Harvey continues to slowly make its way up southeast Texas, Louisiana Baptist Disaster Relief State Director Gibbie McMillan is joining others around the country in urging prayers, donations and volunteers to help thousands of residents affected.
“With all the flooding in Texas we must remember that a year ago many Texans came to Louisiana to help,” McMillan said. “And they sent thousands of dollars as well to help us. Now, it is time to pay it back.
“They didn’t ask us to give but they did,” he continued. “Now, we must respond in like manner. That is how Christian brothers and sisters act. They show the love of Christ.”
Harvey made landfall near Rockport, Texas as a Category 4 hurricane late Friday night, but downgraded to a tropical storm by Saturday. The hurricane center in its Sunday update the tropical storm has maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and remains stationary about 45 miles northwest of Victoria, Texas.
At least five deaths and more than a dozen injuries were reported by Sunday afternoon in Harvey’s aftermath.rHarve
In Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city, rescue personnel made more than 1,200 rescues and were answering thousands of calls from people trapped in the city due to catastrophic flooding.
Heavy rain continued to pour over Houston early Sunday afternoon, with some downtown areas knee-deep in water, and shut down portions of highways flooded with as much as 10 feet of water.
The National Weather Service reported in its afternoon update hourly rain totals up to 3 inches presently is falling with local amounts to 7 inches expected. This will bring local storm total accumulations to 35 inches.
Rain totals over the past 48 hours have reached 27 inches in Southeast Harris County with amounts closer to 12 inches in northern and Western Harris County. Volume wise the present totals have reached the rainfall that fell during Hurricane Allison in June 2001 and it continues to rain.
McMillan said Louisiana’s teams are assessing the situation as they prepare to help Texas residents.
Louisiana State University Baptist Collegiate Ministry Director Steve Masters, whose seasoned chainsaw disaster relief team is among those on alert, urged others to pray for those directly affected, as well as law enforcement officials and government leaders. He added donations of money, equipment and man power will be needed in the weeks ahead.
“Consider making a financial contribution,” Masters wrote on his Facebook page. “Local SBC associations and SBC State Conventions will be sending their feeding, showers and laundry units to the affected areas. It costs money to do so.
“You can donate directly to them and the money will be used wisely. You may want to make a designated contribution to your church for Hurricane Harvey help,” continued Masters who sustained heavy damage to his home in last year’s historical floods. “Pam and I were very grateful we received all four types of help after our house flooded. Our prayers are with those who have been or will be affected by this storm.”
Masters said he would be happy to answer questions or help put people in contact with DR leaders or churches. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HELP IS POURING IN
The North American Mission Board reported they and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief had joined emergency response teams including Texas Baptist Men, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, the American Red Cross and police and fire departments.
Southern Baptist teams from Oklahoma, Arkansas and Mississippi also were readying volunteers and equipment for a response. Around 3,000 to 4,000 SBDR volunteers nationwide are poised to respond, according to NAMB.
The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness in Louisiana deployed two Emergency Management Assistance Compact Advance Team personnel to Texas on Saturday.
“Louisiana and GOHSEP stand ready to help our friends in other states when they face this type of disaster,” said GOHSEP Director James Waskom. “Texas has historically been one of our strongest emergency partners. GOHSEP employees have a vast amount of knowledge and experience other states often look for when they need support. We are proud to be able to help assist Texas during this event.”
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said state officials are also keeping a close eye on the situation in Louisiana as the rain bands are starting to dump large amounts of rain in southwest Louisiana. He urged all Louisiana residents to monitor local news and be aware of heavy rainfall and potentially life-threatening flooding.
“In addition to making the necessary preparations for this storm in Louisiana, we are in regular contact with our neighbors in Texas,” Edwards said in a news release. “Already, we have dispatched personnel from Louisiana to assist their efforts, including with search and rescue.
“Nearly 12 years ago, Texans opened their doors to the people of Louisiana when Hurricane Katrina devastated our state,” Edwards continued. “Since then, we’ve turned to them for assistance time and again. In 2016, Texas Taskforce 1 was dispatched to our state to provide support during the historic floods. We will do nothing less to support to the people of Texas in any way that we can as they respond and recover from Hurricane Harvey.”
In addition to 25 to 35 inches of rain, the storm has also spawned tornadoes, including one that blew over a camper in Hackberry. More than a dozen Texas counties and several parishes were under tornado watches and warnings at some point Saturday.
The Weather Channel reported one tornado crossed Interstate 10 and slammed into a storage facility in the Houston suburb of Katy early Saturday. Two more tornados were confirmed to have touched down in northwestern Harris County, Texas and in Missouri City, where more than 50 homes were damaged in one neighborhood.
The Coast Guard, which received more than 300 requests for help, and rescued 20 people alomg the Texas Gulf Coast, deployed five helicopters and asked for additional aircraft from New Orleans.
Widespread flooding is expected along stretches of the Brazos, Colorado, Guadalupe, Navidad and San Bernard Rivers.
Anyone wishing to donate to Disaster Relief efforts for those affected by Hurricane Harvey go to the Louisiana Baptist Disaster Relief website.