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TX town struggles after flood

For many involved in flood recovery in El Campo, obstacles just keeping popping up.

BY HEATHER MOYER | EL CAMPO, Texas | June 10, 2005

"Helping was just the right thing to do."

—Rev. Clyde Greer

For many involved in flood recovery in El Campo, obstacles just keeping popping up.

“We’re trying to get this done a little at a time, but there have been a lot of mountains in the way,” said the Rev. Beverly Schmidt of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. “We’ll fix one thing, then we’ll find something else wrong and you have to fix that first.”

Last November, flash flooding hit the southeast Texas town as a record two feet of rain fell within several days across the region.

Schmidt heads a flood relief committee made up of the Methodist churches in El Campo. The committee is focusing on families within their own churches right now, but Schmidt said they will help anyone who asks.

So far, the committee has done major renovation work in three homes, and Schmidt expects at least another 10 homes that she knows of to still need work.

“It’s very slow going, I’m not sure exactly how many others need help – some may have moved on to find other help at this point,” she explained. While volunteers have been able to help in a few labor capacities, the committee has helped families pay for skilled labor to do flooring, drywall, roofing, bathrooms, and even helping to level the foundation of one home.

The problem for the committee is that paying for skilled and licensed labor is not cheap.

So St. Paul’s and the other churches – First United Methodist Church, Wesley Chapel, and an African Methodist Episcopal Church – are constantly organizing fundraisers.

“There’s been a lot of expense, yes, so we’ve had fundraising dinners,” said Schmidt, who noted that they are grateful for the funding they received from the United Methodist Committee on Relief and other churches across the region.

Schmidt added that while the churches in town aren’t all working on the same committee to help families, they are definitely all helping anyone who comes to them for assistance.

The El Campo Mennonite Church had volunteers ripping out carpet and carrying out soggy furniture after the floods.

The congregation of Faith Lutheran Church has replaced appliance and furniture for other families. The Rev. Clyde Greer, Faith’s pastor, said with help from the church’s fraternal insurance company, they’ve been able to fund these types of replacements for the families.

While none of Faith’s members had flood damage themselves, they all knew that sitting idle was not an option. “Helping was just the right thing to do,” said Greer.

The Faith congregation donates a lot of volunteer time to assist with home repairs, too. Greer said that’s the nature of his church – and much of the community as well. He remembered one woman who went out of her way to get help for her neighbors. As it turned out, she was the one living in a severely flood-damaged home.

“One of our church members found out, and then organized help for her,” explained Greer. “We did some extensive drywall replacement and floor work, and it’s been a real joy to help her out.”

For the churches of El Campo, they will keep providing help as long as they have families coming to them. Greer and Schmidt agreed that while some spirits are low, the community is rallying as it is able.

Schmidt said some of their committee’s projects are at the stage where non-skilled volunteers can help out, but there are still a lot of challenging home repair projects ahead.

“It’s a matter of finding the right help at the right time,” she said.

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