Responding to Hurricane Harvey
How can we help? In the face of a disaster like Hurricane Harvey, this is the cry of hearts inundated with images of the flooding and interviews of those displaced, having experienced the loss of all of life’s possessions. Our hearts are heavy, our eyes are teary and our prayers are intercessory in the face of so many loosing so much.
Having been involved in relief efforts from Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy and flooding here in Colorado along Saint Vrain, I have some observations with regard to responding to the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey.
First, it is impossible to assess the totality of the disaster while it is still occurring. The area of impact is experiencing complete infrastructure failure at this point. Roads, water, sewer and electrical components continue to be compromised or destroyed. It will be several more days before Harvey is done. As disasters go, the current operations would be labeled as “Search and Rescue” and “Emergency Relief”.
There are several groups that a church can support that are well suited for these stages of disaster relief. I would suggest that if churches want to engage immediately that they consider sending their support to Samaritan’s Purse. Other early responders equipped to move into disasters in these early stages are the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.
Once these groups have done the work that they are best prepared do, the recovery stages can begin. The recovery stage, when people can begin rebuilding their lives, can only begin when basic infrastructure components are restored and people are no longer worried about safety and survival.
This is a long-term disaster that will require long-term support that over the next several weeks and months will move from “Search and Rescue” and “Emergency Relief” to recovery. The recovery stage can have very distinct stages that require different support needs. Those stages are:
- Early Recovery – They have a place to get food and water and a temporary or transitional shelter that can withstand wind and rain. They can go about their daily lives, beginning to resume some kind of normal existence.
- Medium to Long-Term Recovery – During medium to long-term recovery, the work of building permanent physical structures to replace tents, trailers, or plywood houses begins, as does restoration of social structures.
- Community Development – Community development is a means of improving on the “normal.” Traditionally, this phase is not considered part of emergency response.
We are currently looking for strategic partnerships – organizations and churches that will become staging areas for ongoing relief. Our long-term strategy will be prioritized by:
- Helping churches that desire to minister to their communities as staging or resourcing areas of relief.
- Helping families in those churches gain stability in their lives so that they can help minister to their community.
- All the while looking for opportunity to share the love of Jesus with neighbors by helping them rebuild their lives.
Like Katrina relief, we hope to discover opportunities for churches to send teams to assist in recovery.