Disaster relief begins in Houston as Harvey heads east

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HOUSTON— As Hurricane Harvey heads east, disaster relief organizations have begun deployment to provide assistance to the state of Texas. The rain from Hurricane Harvey has become the heaviest tropical down pour in U.S. history.

Residents in the nation’s fourth largest city awoke Tuesday to a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Forecasters expect Harvey to move northeast into Louisiana by Tuesday afternoon, bringing the longed-for relief from days of unprecedented rainfall from the tropical storm.

Houston normally gets 49.77 inches of rain on average annually. Between June 1 and Aug. 28, the total has topped 50 inches. Since Tuesday morning, about 49 inches of rain fell on the southeast side of Houston.

Samaritan’s Purse
Samaritan’s Purse deployed two Disaster Relief Units to Texas in preparation for Hurricane Harvey’s landfall. Photo courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse.

As night fell Monday, Aug. 28, thousands of people continued to slosh out of flooded neighborhoods seeking shelter. About 9,000 people spent the night at the George R. Brown Convention Center downtown. Although the facility only had beds for 5,000, city officials reported no problems.

Shelters also opened in area churches and schools.

Once the rain stops, most of water still filling so much of the city will begin to drain, but officials warn some areas have more misery in store as rivers rise toward their crests. The Brazos River, on the west side of Houston, is expected to crest at a record-breaking 59 feet Thursday morning. The river has seeped into more than 70 neighborhoods already. Houston police have rescued more than 3,400 people so far, and the U.S. Coast Guard has saved another 3,600 victims so far.

According to the New York Times, local officials have reported 19 confirmed and suspected flood-related deaths.

Police Chief Art Acevedo warned that number will rise as the water recedes and search crews begin assessing damaged areas.

— by Leigh Jones | WNS

CNJ staff added to this report.

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Disaster Relief Organizations
(Click on the bolded words for direct links to pages with Hurricane Harvey relief)

As residents of Houston face the monumental task of recovering from Hurricane Harvey, relief groups are staging efforts to feed emergency responders, amass supplies for homeless families, and shelter evacuees. A handful of Christian organizations include:

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief:  The relief arm of the Southern Baptist Convention says it also will be on the ground for months to come. The group reports it has already served 60,000 displaced Texans and prepared thousands of hot meals, and offers a link for sending financial gifts through the North American Mission Board.

Samaritan’s Purse: The Christian relief organization offers a sense of the scope of the disaster with this plea at its online hub for Hurricane Harvey relief: “Thousands of volunteers will be needed for months to come.” A link offers information for individuals or teams willing to travel to the Houston area to cut down trees, place tarps on roofs, and help homeowners gut and clean their flooded homes. It also offers a way to donate to the relief group’s efforts to assist families in conjunction with local churches.

Operation Blessing: Operation Blessing stands at the ready to help. They are assessing damage, even as they pray with and encourage residents. They will be delivering massive quantities of food, portable showers, refrigerated trailers, generators, volunteer supplies for those who will help with the aftermath, and more. The offer ways for individuals to donate.

World Vision: The Christian organization is responding by partnering with churches to provide vital supplies and support to areas that were affected by Hurricane Harvey. World Vision also stays long after disasters have faded from the headlines, in order to help communities rebuild. World Vision offers ways to donate to the relief effort.

Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Disaster Response: LCMS Disaster Response is coordinating with the Texas District Disaster Response to launch a significant and sustained relief effort in response to Hurricane Harvey. Their teams will deploy as soon as emergency officials allow them to enter the disaster zone. LCMS offers a way to donate to the relief group’s efforts.

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