ONE YEAR LATER – REMEMBERING HARVEY
On August 17, 2017 while most of us were sleeping comfortably in our beds here in Tulsa one of the worst storms in history was causing wide spread devastation on the coast of Texas. Inflicting more than $ 120 billion dollars in damage, affecting nearly 13 million people, destroying or damaging nearly 135,000 homes, killing 88 people, closing schools for months, displacing families and dumping 27 trillion gallons of water on Texas. But those are just statistics – numbers that don’t really touch us. Sure, they sound bad, allowing us to feel the magnitude of what happened but they aren’t faces, they aren’t people with hearts or families who lost everything and have no way to regain what was lost.
The Journey saw past the statistics and they immediately began to look for ways that they could effectively help communities that had been hit. Our first instinct is to rush in and personally help but that isn’t always the best thing to do. Communities going through a devastating event are usually left in chaos particularly in the first days. Phone service is limited, water supplies are contaminated, hospitals are over flowing, and people are overwhelmed. Adding more people that don’t know what they are doing isn’t the answer. Sending clothing and supplies that WE think they need doesn’t work because in many cases the buildings and organizations that normally store and organize the supplies have themselves been destroyed. So, what is the answer? As impersonal as it feels to donate money that really can be the right answer. But finding the right organization can be difficult. So, the Journey staff reached out to different congregations, friends and family and with your help we were able to make our contributions count and we can feel good about the help that we did send.
So, what did we do?
One of the first things we heard about was that first responders leave their families, sometimes not knowing if their own homes and children will be safe. They stay for weeks, sometimes months, in what remains of the police department or the fire stations of the hardest hit areas. In the early days after a storm there is no way to receive supplies, so they make do with what they have brought with them. Sleeping on cots, without pillows or blankets. Wearing the same clothes over and over. Once the supplies they have run out, they have no way to replenish them because the stores are still closed. This was the only time that we actually sent supplies, but we received a list of necessary items that were needed and could be easily shipped into Rockport, directly to the Police Department. Many of you contributed and it was a great way to feel like we were doing something tangible and useful.
Every Nations Mission Foundation and The Journey members generously donated over $ 10,000 to be used for Hurricane Harvey relief. Those funds were sent to 2 different congregations in the Houston area. One church contributed the funds to their Bucket Challenge and used the money to purchase cleaning supplies like bleach, trash bags, mops and brooms and 5-gallon buckets. Items that we never dreamed would be in short supply. Another church used the money to buy sheet rock and building supplies to help repair or rebuild the homes of members that did not have insurance.
Fifteen hundred dollars was sent to the Rockport-Fulton Little League organization to purchase bats, balls and uniforms that were lost in the storm and to cover the cost of joining the league for children who otherwise would not have been able to play this summer due to the financial strain already placed on their families because of the storm.
Following closely on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, Florida and Puerto Rico were also devasted by hurricanes or flooding and so more money was allocated to organizations or churches that were working directly with people in those areas.
Sometimes a prayer is all that we have to offer. Journey member Janice Harris is specifically trained in helping during disasters and she spent some time in Rockport counseling and encouraging those that had been affected. Many prayers were said for her safety and discernment and I know that she greatly appreciated them.
All it takes is one quick search of the internet to find hundreds of stories about people helping other people during Hurricane Harvey. The stories are heart wrenching, heartwarming and inspirational but can also make us feel as if we aren’t doing enough. There may come a time when we are in a situation that calls us to directly interact with someone in a devastating situation but in this situation, I think that The Journey was a light in dark times, did what we could do and blessed our Texas neighbors even though they had no idea who we were or what we did.
Lisa is our chief financial officer. She has been on staff since 2007 and loves being a part of what God is doing at The Journey. She is married to David, with 3 grown daughters, 6 grandchildren and a dog named Maia. Her favorite things are spending time with her family, reading, and aqua aerobics.