South TX needs volunteers

When floods hit the southeastern Texas coast and they often do the Rev. Bill Jackson often has to help his congregation cope with the effects.

BY SUSAN KIM | SINTON, Texas | October 8, 2003



"There were so many disasters in everyone's home state, or one state away from people, that the folks who usually travel across the country to help us out traveled nearer their home."

—Dale Peercy


When floods hit the southeastern Texas coast and they often do the Rev. Bill Jackson often has to help his congregation cope with the effects.

Jackson, pastor at the Sinton Presbyterian Church, said flood damage seems almost inevitable. "In this area, they allowed people to build homes where homes never should have been built," he said. Sinton, in San Patricio County, is part of a flat coastal area that bears the brunt of hurricanes, tornadoes and thunderstorms.

And just up the road in Nueces County, recovery is still underway from a trio of disasters in 2002 floods struck in July, Tropical Storm Fay hit in September, and a tornado touched down in October.

More than two years later, the area needs volunteers, said Dale Peercy of Lutheran Disaster Response.

"We have only two volunteers for the rest of the year," he said.

Local churches and disaster response teams are working through a group called the Disaster Recovery Interfaith of the Coastal Bend. The organization has a warehouse located in Robstown, just north of Corpus Christi.

The group has funded repairs for at least 12 homes, and it already has building materials for six of those, said Peercy.

"We just need willing workers," he said.

The Disaster Recovery Interfaith of the Coastal Bend is also working with Mennonite Disaster Service and the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee to recruit volunteer teams. "But there is nothing definite yet," said Peercy.

During the summer when volunteerism usually peaks southern Texas didn't see much action. "There were so many disasters in everyone's home state, or one state away from people, that the folks who usually travel across the country to help us out traveled nearer their home," Peercy said.

Many residents in Robstown are particularly vulnerable, Peercy said. "This is a really poor community," he said. Many homes were in a state of disrepair before floods even hit, he said.

But the Disaster Recovery Interfaith of the Coastal Bend is trying to use its limited funds to focus on disaster-related repairs, he said. "We try to keep that as our priority," said Peercy.

Peercy suffered his own setback a year ago when he was helping with flood recovery in Houston. Someone stole his whole truckload of tools.

But with the help of Lutheran Disaster Response, local churches and volunteer groups, Peercy has restocked his tool chest. It shed a new light on how people who lose everything to a flood must feel, he said.

"I can relate to people who lost personal items in floods," he said. "I still remember how my favorite tools felt in my hand."

The Disaster Recovery Interfaith of the Coastal Bend has a small warehouse in Robstown where donations of building materials are gladly accepted. "We can always use stuff like drywall," said Peercy.

And monetary donations are another welcome option, he added. "We have another 40 homes we're ready to go estimate," he said.


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