By Matt Sciba
I rode out Harvey with my extended family in Victoria, Texas, combining resources and taking care of about 50 horses at my parents’ house. Since the storm hit, I have had many conversations with people in Victoria and have traveled many times to other areas such as Rockport and Port Aransas on the South Texas coast that took a more direct hit from this devastating storm,.
The story is the same in all these places. There is much to be proud of. Communities have drawn together. First Baptist Port Aransas offered to store the musical instruments from the school across the street which was severely damaged. Churches that could still function in some way mobilized and became a part of the solution…becoming a distribution center at first and then becoming a clearing house for volunteer groups and families in need. Coastal Oaks and First Baptist Rockport, for example, have become hubs of relief and recovery efforts.
I have heard amazing stories of people coming together with whole streets, whole blocks, and even whole neighborhoods getting to intimately know people they have lived next to for years but never really knew—a shared power cord here, a shared meal there. Stories of community and helping each other in time of need. Stories of giving and sharing.
Many people from far and near generously offered a helping hand. They provided catered meals and basic supplies. They cleaned up fallen trees and other debris. I watched in awe as the linemen came pouring into our region to restore power, working around the clock to get the power lines put back together. Truck after truck came down the highway. Mile after mile of power lines were lifted off the ground and spliced together. These men and women are paid for their efforts, but it is not without sacrifice of time away from family and risk of life and limb. Police officers, National Guard, and others came and offered assistance.
We have much to be proud of and thankful for. But there is much yet to be accomplished.
Families are still displaced. As things return to normal for some, there are others that, to this day, are sifting through their homes and churches that are a total loss. Everything they owned was blown away or ruined by the driving rain. Along the coast, debris trucks continue to pick up load after load—the necessary clearing of things that were once loved possessions. The piles of debris just keep growing, with much left to clear. Families struggle to reconcile their bank accounts and make ends meet in the wake of the storm. In Rockport, only about one-third of the businesses are up and running again. Churches continue to be displaced. Churches that are hubs of activity are still trying to get completely on their feet again, dealing with things like insurance and budget needs. They continue to serve their communities in a time of need, some meeting in homes and others meeting in heavily damaged facilities. They drive by the reminders of devastation every day. They worship in fractured houses. They continue to serve with a true sense of realigned priorities and values.
Much has been accomplished. Much remains to be done. My prayer is that people who live far from this area will not forget that their brothers and sisters still need their help. My hope is that we will build on the accomplishments of a deep sense of community developed during the storm and its aftermath so that we can leverage the generosity of people everywhere who have shown they care.
Come swing a hammer, donate, raise a prayer, and connect in partnership. This is the ongoing story of the story of the South Texas Coast. It will continue to be an inspiring testimony of the love of Christ. This is how families and churches will be made whole to give testimony in the days to come. There is much to do. Join us.
Learn more about opportunities to serve in Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts or donate to CBF relief efforts at www.cbf.net/harvey.