Dear colleague in ministry,
As the harrowing pictures and stories from Hurricane Harvey in Texas continue to fill the evening news broadcasts and social media channels, I have been in touch with our pastors in the affected areas and wanted to pass along to you what they are experiencing. Below are some of the emails I have received as of Monday, August 28, at 8:30 p.m. (EST):
From Michel Yonts, pastor of Edna Presbyterian Church in Edna, Texas:“No damage to the church or our home. One family lost their home when the roof blew off. As far as I know, the rest came through the storm okay. I don’t know when power will be back on.” This church is the closest EPC congregation to where the hurricane made landfall.
From Alan Trafford, pastor of Covenant EPC in Lake Jackson, Texas:“We have a couple of people with water in their homes, but the real problem will be when the water upriver moves down towards the Gulf. Just to the north of us, many areas have received 35 inches already, with another 10 forecast. Lake Jackson is now effectively cut off. All roads out are impassable, so we’ll just have to grill whatever is in the freezer and make do. Record river levels are expected across Southeast Texas through the beginning of next week. I imagine the flooding will be horrendous. We are protected here, to a degree, by the levee system, but if the Brazos River reaches the heights some are predicting, all bets are off."
From Richard Harris, pastor of Christ EPC in Houston: “My family is dry and our home appears to be out of harm’s way. The authorities are systematically releasing a lot of water from a reservoir today to prevent catastrophic flooding if the dam broke. So a big prayer request is that this releasing of water works, but it will surely cause other homes to flood because the bayous are all full. I know many people are eager to help, but at this point I don’t know what the needs are. I should know more by the end of the week when the water is gone."
From Dan Tidwell, World Outreach Communications Coordinator, who lives in Missouri City, Texas (southwest Houston): “We needed to get out this morning for some groceries and found a store that was open. Many of the shelves were bare but we did find most of the items we needed. Then we had to wait in line to check out for 2½ hours. Even as supplies were running out, hundreds of people were in the store, with still more coming in when we left. People know that it could be a while before another chance to get out will come along. As bad as we think it is, we just need to watch what is happening in other parts of the city to know we are very fortunate to have a home to stay in. There are so many that have lost everything. There are many in our immediate area that may well lose everything tonight as the river rises."
From Carter Sanger, pastor of Cornerstone EPC in Katy, Texas:“Everybody is safe and praise God we miraculously still have power. We have a few families trapped in their neighborhoods, however, and we are trying to locate boats to get them out.”
From Tom Masterson, pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church in San Antonio: “I brought my parents over to San Antonio last night from Houston. San Antonio is currently dry. Their house in Houston, and my brother’s across the street, are about one foot away from rising water entering their homes. We are hopeful that the bayous are peaking and won’t rise any further. Thank you for your prayers!”
From Brett Becker, evangelist at Quest Church in New Braunfels: “We are fine. I haven’t heard of anyone at church with anything major, other than roof leaks. We got tons of rain and high wind, but not much flooding—at least not yet. The coast and Houston areas got the brunt of it.”
City of Refuge Church in Houston has a link on their website for donating to flood relief: https://cityofrefuge.
Ikki Soma, Pastor of City of Refuge, recorded a podcast that explains some relief efforts in Houston, and how people can help: www.sportsspectrum.com/
The EPC has set up an Emergency Relief Fund. In collaboration with the Presbytery of the Gulf South, donations to the fund will be sent to EPC churches in the greater Houston area affected by the storm. Click here to donate online (Choose “Emergency Relief” from the first pulldown menu and “Hurricane Harvey Relief (506)” from the second pulldown menu,) or make check payable to Evangelical Presbyterian Church and designated “Hurricane Matthew Relief,” and send to:
Evangelical Presbyterian Church
The situation is going to get worse before it gets better, so please keep the people of southeastern Texas in your prayers.
PMA Treasurer - Tim Burns
2514 Plantation Center Drive
Matthews, NC 28105
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