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Here comes Harvey

Churches of Christ in south Texas brace for impact as congregations across the U.S. gear up for relief.

HOW TO HELP: See a list of church-supported ministries accepting donations for relief at the end of this piece.
As Hurricane Harvey intensifies in the Gulf of Mexico, Churches of Christ in south Texas — where the storm is expected to make landfall tonight — are preparing for the worst.

“We’ve just wrapped all electronics in plastic, boarded up the windows of our apartments we provide to the elderly and secured all outdoor items,” said David Srygley, minister for the Arlington Heights Church of Christ in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Severe storm warnings are a way of life in coastal Texas, so the minister described the preparations as “pretty much business as usual.”

Many in the path of the storm are traveling north to safety. Congregations including the Kings Crossing Church of Christ, also in Corpus Christi, have canceled Sunday services.

“Please stay in the safety of your home this Sunday and have a time of worship and prayer with your family,” the church’s elders said in a message to members.

In Houston, where Harvey could cause widespread flooding well into next week, Texans are clearing the supermarket shelves of staples, as evidenced by this social media post from Doug Peters, minister for the Grace Crossing Church of Christ in nearby Conroe, Texas.

“The water aisle was just as bare,” Peters told The Christian Chronicle. “Many gas stations are totally out of fuel.”

The church established an electronic list of its widows and widowers that staffers can access remotely to coordinate members as they conduct check-ins after the storm, Peters said.

“We pray for all in the direct path of the storm,” he added, “and also the many millions who will be indirectly impacted as well.”

Chris Miller, a member of the Memorial Church of Christ in Houston, said, “We’re just doing basic storm prep, making sure things are sealed up well and that we have food and gas. Our church sent out a sign-up list yesterday for people who can volunteer to put people up, help with storm damage, arrange workers, etc.

“Now we just need to keep our kids entertained,” Miller added. Most Houston-area schools are closed today.

The Memorial church also is preparing sandbags and has a disaster response team of church members ready to help, minister David Duncan added.

“Elders, deacons, staff and small-group leaders are staying in touch with members that may experience flooding,” Duncan said. “In actuality, we may all get flooded!”
Preparing for relief

Inland from the storm, congregations including the Church of Christ in the small town of Gonzales, Texas, are preparing to serve as shelters for evacuees.

Christians outside the storm’s path, meanwhile, are preparing for relief efforts in the days to come.

“We have several truckloads ready to roll as soon as it is safe to come in behind the hurricane,” said Ken Leonard, associate director of Nashville, Tenn.-based Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort (CCDRE) Inc. “Our warehouse has already put out the call for volunteers in Nashville to build a stockpile of food boxes, baby boxes, personnel hygiene products and cleaning buckets.”

Disaster Assistance CoC, a ministry supported by Churches of Christ, plans to work with the Arlington Heights congregation, other churches affected by the storm and churches that can serve as bases of operation for relief.

“Our initial focus will be the Lake Jackson, Texas, area,” said Mike Baumgartner, the ministry’s director. “We have been working with the Lake Jackson Church of Christ since 2008 (Hurricane Ike). If they do not need our help, then we will review where we can help the most.

“If things happen like is being predicted, there will be 50 locations that will need help.”

Another relief ministry, Churches of Christ Disaster Response Team, is preparing to serve in the storm’s aftermath.

“Trailers, tools, equipment and supplies are being loaded in preparation,” coordinators said in a social media message. “We’re watching this storm closely.”

Leonard cautioned fellow Christians against rushing into disaster areas without sufficient planning and coordination.

“I know there will be a lot of members who will want to go down there and help,” he said, adding that CCDRE will send updates about where and when its trucks of relief supplies will arrive. However, he warned, “communication may be sparse in the areas hardest hit.”

Are you in the path of the storm? What are you praying for? How are you preparing? We will post more updates as they become available. 

How to help

The following ministries, associated with Churches of Christ, are accepting donations for relief work:

Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort Inc. (Facebook page)

Churches of Christ Disaster Response Team (Facebook page)

Disaster Assistance CoC (Facebook page)

WFR Relief

Filed under: Headlines - Secondary National Partners Top Stories

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