BEAUMONT—When Tropical Depression Imelda made landfall in Southeast Texas on Sept. 17, rain fell and fell and fell some more. And as it fell, the water rose higher and higher.
When it first started creeping in Sonia’s small house in Beaumont, she began moving her belongings into the attic. Shortly after, she hoisted herself up. She stayed there, riding out the storm.
For the next 58 days, she lived in the attic. Aside from a few trips to Houston to work, that’s 1,392 hours—83,520 excruciating minutes—surrounded by her stuff, hovering over a home she couldn’t live in, until now.
Soon after floodwaters receded, Texas Baptist Men volunteers removed the damaged flooring and sheetrock.
In the last few days, TBM crews returned to install sheetrock, giving her something extra to be thankful for this Thanksgiving—a safe home, as well as gift cards for a Thanksgiving dinner.
In two days, TBM transformed her home from unlivable to secure, empowering Sonia to take another step in the recovery process. Along the way, volunteers bonded with her, taking her out to dinner and giving her a ride to visit her ailing father in the hospital.
TBM offers ‘help, hope and healing’
The effort is part of a nearly two-week blitz by TBM Rebuild to help put homes and lives back together again that are still affected by Imelda. Spread across the area, TBM lifted spirits as they lifted sheetrock.
“In many ways, what we’re seeing is a picture of what help, hope and healing through the gospel of Jesus Christ does,” said David Wells, who leads TBM Rebuild. “We are broken people, but God carefully makes us whole through a relationship with him.
“As we work in these houses, we’re ministering to residents. We’re praying with them. We’re encouraging them. God cares deeply about them.”
About 50 volunteers from churches across the state are working during the rebuild effort, a growing part of TBM disaster relief ministries. The initiative allows larger church groups to respond to significant and long-term needs after disasters.
“The recovery process is much longer than most people realize,” Wells said. “Particularly after a large-scale disaster, people can continue struggling for months if not years.
“By walking and working alongside hurting people, we are helping them practically, emotionally and spiritually on that journey.”