Five years ago this month, a tropical storm, soon to be Hurricane Harvey, formed in the Atlantic Ocean. By the time it made landfall in Texas on Aug. 25, 2017, it was a Category 4 storm that brought heavy rain and wind to the southern United States. Harvey is the wettest tropical storm on record; some areas received 60 inches of rain. The hurricane killed at least 107 people, and flooding displaced over 30,000.
On October 7 2017, Russ Miller organized a group of 21 TLLC members who traveled down to La Grange to help with Hurricane Harvey disaster recovery. The La Grange area lost over 300 homes due to flooding from the storm. We participated in nail pulling and general clean up. We were able to meet with one of the homeowners who was very grateful as she had no insurance and depended on volunteer help. TLLC members also packed 11 disaster clean-up kits that were distributed by Austin Disaster Relief Network.
The summer of 2018, 27 youth and adults participated in the ELCA National Youth Gathering in Houston, TX. Among the many activities of celebration, worship, fellowship, and learning, was a day of serving. Our group was assigned to help a church in the Third Ward with much needed cleanup in the aftermath of the previous hurricane season. This church was a vital spot for families needing food as well as a donation drop off of all kinds of remodeling/rebuilding materials. Our group helped with organization and distribution of food and clearing out storage buildings of unused remodeling materials.
Harvey was just one of several major hurricanes in 2017. Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria arrived in September, each causing major damage. Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR) immediately stepped in to offer relief to survivors. Donors entrusted over $15 million to LDR to accompany survivors in Texas, Louisiana, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. To this day LDR is maintaining this support as rebuilding continues. They published an anniversary report “2017 Hurricanes: Five Years Later.” It features the stories of Harvey and Maria survivors and demonstrates the incredible work of LDR and their partners.