Texas Strong

American and Texan flags fly from the back of a pickup truck amidst the devastation of Harvey, as Operation Blessing begins their disaster relief.

TEXAS – On August 25, Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Rockport, Texas, as a powerful category 4 storm. Just two days earlier, Harvey had been nothing more than a loose collection of thunderstorms off the coast of Mexico, leaving Texans precious little time to prepare.

OBI volunteers help clean up debris from the damage of Hurricane Harvey.

Harvey’s storm surge and 130 mph winds caused massive destruction in Rockport and surrounding areas. Harvey churned steadily up the coast dropping enormous amounts of rain as it went, eventually breaking every rainfall record for a tropical cyclone with totals of up to 52 inches. The record breaking rains led to historic flooding, and Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city, was ground zero.

An OBI semi-truck delivers emergency relief supplies in Texas.

By the time Harvey finally petered out over Tennessee and Kentucky, almost a week after first making landfall, hundreds of thousands of homes had been damaged or destroyed and a million people displaced.

Hundreds of people seek help at an Operation Blessing food distribution.

Even before the storm hit, Operation Blessing’s U.S. disaster relief team deployed to Texas to prepare for an immediate response. In the days after Harvey’s impact, several local churches served as distribution centers as Operation Blessing semi-trucks delivered tons of emergency relief supplies including food, water, and hygiene items to the beleaguered survivors. Other disaster relief equipment including an industrial generator, mobile kitchen, chainsaws and other tools for debris removal, shower trailer for residents and volunteers, and more quickly arrived on the scene to support recovery efforts.

An Operation Blessing worker unloads portable cribs for a mega shelter.

As the floodwaters began to recede, Operation Blessing set up volunteer headquarters at churches in Rockport, Beaumont, and Port Arthur. At each site, Operation Blessing staff accepted requests for help from residents whose properties had been damaged or destroyed by the storm and the floods. From there, thousands of Operation Blessing volunteers worked for days on end to remove waterlogged flooring, drywall, appliances, and belongings in a race to prevent mold from taking over in flooded homes.

Volunteers gather for a morning meeting before going out to help Hurricane Harvey victims.

For many residents, just knowing they didn’t have to face the clean up process alone made all the difference, especially for the elderly, disabled, single mothers, and uninsured. “It’s wonderful, I never thought there were people like this,” said Sandy, who was helped by an OBI work crew. Ruth, another OBI beneficiary from Port Arthur, said, “We’re tremendously blessed by Operation Blessing. It’s aptly named.”

A mother receives desperately needed diapers and other supplies for her child.

Thanks to our faithful supporters, Operation Blessing has been able to respond quickly and powerfully to the unprecedented crisis brought by Hurricane Harvey. For those experiencing such a devastating disaster and so much personal loss, Operation Blessing partners provide both practical help and the hope of a brighter future to come.

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