5 Things You Need to Know in the Wake of a Flood

1.  God cares about you

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; when through the rivers, they won’t sweep over you.”  –Isaiah 43:2a  

Grief and loss may be overwhelming right now, but you are not abandoned.  If you made it out alive, God was with you.  If there are people showing up to help, God is present to you. If you are angry or have questions about faith, God is big enough to handle that.

2. Local Places to Get Supplies and Aid

In Deer Park, we’ve put together this handout with information about churches offering aid.  Check with your local church, ministerial alliance, city hall or even the school district office about who is helping those in need.

3.  Information about Cleaning up

Flood recovery is a long, dirty process.  Done incorrectly, it can also be dangerous and expensive.  These resources might help:

Here is a booklet from the Red Cross about flood recovery
And a video from UMCOR about safely cleaning up
And how to properly put debris out for pick up

4. Tips for applying to FEMA

That handout from #2 has some good info even if you not in Deer Park
This helpful FAQ that dispels rumors about FEMA disaster recovery
Registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, is the quickest way to register for FEMA assistance. If you are unable to access the internet, you can also call at 1-800-621-3362.
Here is an infographic on what happens after you apply for aid


5. How to Avoid Scams

Unfortunately, fraud is a rampant reality after most disasters.  Whether you are recovering or are a volunteer, be vigilant. The Texas Attorney General has great information online about how to avoid fraud in the wake of a disaster.  There is also contact information for reporting scams.
You can also call the National Center for Disaster Fraud 866-720-5721

It’s only the end of the beginning

Huge thank you to all the Deer Park United Methodist folks who have gone above and beyond this week donating to and packing flood buckets, serving in shelters and helping to clean out houses. You have found so many ways to show your faith to others in the midst of this storm.

Thank you to all our brothers and sisters in faith who have partnered together formally and in formally. It is both humbling and inspiring to see so many people go out of their way to help one another.

At the end of this week, I’m tired and I know many of you are as well. I pray you rest tonight for there is so much work ahead. I pray also that the spirit of unity and service that has carried us throughout this week might never be exhausted.

Months from now, when we all look back, I hope we remember the pride and solidarity of this week as much as the tragedy. And I hope it fuels in us the will to keep going long after the cameras are gone and some places are back to “normal”. Because normal is a long way off for some. But if we hold together the way we have this week, perhaps we can do more than return to the way things were.

May we find in these first days the seed of a better future; and however long it takes, may we carefully tend it to fruition.

See, a king will reign in righteousness,

and princes will rule with justice.

Each will be like a hiding place from the wind,

a covert from the tempest,

like streams of water in a dry place,

like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.

-Isaiah 32:2

For Pastors (and people) feeling helpless today.

So Houston and South Texas are in the midst of bewildering large scale crisis.  The local news is a 24-hour non-stop parade of anxiety and heart breaking stories of loss and fear. First responders are doing incredible, amazing, heroic, outstand, (insert your favorite superlative here) job in the face of overwhelming need.

For those in other helping professions (like us pastors), watching all of it from the sidelines can leave you feeling both restless and useless.  If your church is a shelter, or supply point or able deploy immediate responders, Way To Go!  Keep it up!  If you’re like me in the “I feel like I should be doing something” but can’t crowd, I present a helpful piece of perspective from the guys at Space City Weather

The situation seems horrible now, and with the prospect of more rain, you may feel hopeless or helpless, or both. From a mental health standpoint, the uncertainty this brings adds a considerable amount of stress to an already stressful situation. I wish we could tell you when the rains will end, but we can’t. Here’s one thing we are sure of, however. The rains will end.

The rains will end, but the work will not.  There will be weeks and months of clean up, rebuilding, counseling, and questions.  Resources will need to be gathered and distributed, work teams deployed, and more than that people are going to need safe places to ask questions and find hope for the future.

Harvey is a relay marathon, and this is only mile 2 or 3.  The baton will come our way.  So be ready.  Spend time in prayer now.  Get what rest you can.  Care for your own congregations and neighbors.  Know how to connect with agencies like the Red Cross and your denominational network and what you have to offer. (for Methodists it’s UMCOR…for Methodists in the Texas Annual Conference it’s also the Mission Center in Conroe).

You might feel useless today, but all of those on the front lines need our prayers.  And when they get tired, there needs to be a fresh wave ready to step in with the next phase of support.  Be ready when your gifts are called.

There are different spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; 5 and there are different ministries and the same Lord; 6 and there are different activities but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.      – -1 Corinthians 12:4-6

If you’re looking for more than encouragement  the best ways to help at this point are (from the TXAC):

  • Monetary donations can be made directly to UMCOR Domestic Disaster Response, Advance #901670, at umcor.org.
  • Churches and individuals can assemble cleaning kits (flood buckets) and deliver them to the Mission Center in Conroe beginning Monday.  A list of kit supplies can be found at http://www.umcor.org/UMCOR/Relief-Supplies/Relief-Supply-Kits/Cleaning.
  • If churches receive monetary donations for disaster relief, please send these to the conference treasurer’s office marked “Disaster Relief.”  We will utilize the money accordingly.

(image from Laredo Morning Times)