Update by Rev. Laraine Waughtal, CTC Disaster Response Coordinator – 9:50 p.m. Monday, May 20
Today we had 26 Early Response Team members on the ground (or on a roof) working to clear the debris field. I have been to a number of disaster zones now but this is one of the most dangerous I have seen. The F4 tornado did its damage destroying the homes and dreams of so many people. Trees were stripped and twisted and broken in ways you cannot imagine. Sharp tin which can cut you badly in a second is everywhere, not to mention all the nails and glass and other objects that cause harm. We have even seen a couple of snakes making a new home out of the debris.
We worked on a number of homes that suffered great damage and had debris piles higher than the home itself. Belongings from their homes and unknown neighbors littered the area. We are working hard to salvage those personal items. Crews worked long areas making homes and yards safer. We also helped Acton UMC clean up the community center they own in the Rancho Brazos area. Their building suffered a good bit of damage. Workers cleared up the site inside and out and made it safe. We are also using this place as a hub for our volunteers from which to deploy and to return for some rest.
Two women and a child pulled up to where we were working about mid-afternoon and asked, "Are you the Methodists? We were told you were the ones to ask for help.” While that was quite a humbling and affirming question and statement, it isn’t the first such experience. People have come up and talked to us and shared their stories and cried on our shoulders as we also shed tears with them. As we have done the work you see hope return to their eyes in receiving help and knowing there is a future. There will be a lot of need over the summer to help with repairs and rebuilding. This cleanup will continue for some time and many, many more stories will be shared and made during our time together.
Thank you for your prayers and donations to help to the people of affected by these storms. There is a tremendous need here. And, as we learned today as we heard and watched another tornado tragedy unfold in Moore, Oklahoma, this tornado season is nowhere close to over.
Update from West, Texas.
Of course, even though our immediate focus has shifted a bit northwest, prayers and efforts continue with fervor for those affected by the fertilizer plant explosion in West.
We are making slow but steady progress in West. The Long Term Recovery Committee continues to mobilize as they wait for insurance companies to make their decisions and FEMA grants and SBA loans to come through. All of this takes time.
As soon as VIM teams for the repair and rebuilding process can begin, teams from around the CTC will be notified and you will have an opportunity to register and sign up through the conference website. Dawne Phillips, director of Missions for the Central Texas Conference, and I plan to return to West on Wednesday (May 22) to meet with officials and the LTRC to discuss future plans and continue to prepare for our part in Long Term Case Management.
Thank you for your continued support through your prayers and your giving.