A Texas-Sized Need for Volunteers

November 13, 2015 • United States
Every work day in Bastrop starts with united prayer by staff, volunteers, and chaplains.

Samaritan’s Purse issues call for help in assisting homeowners in Bastrop, Texas.

Volunteers are desperately needed to help come alongside disaster-weary residents of Bastrop, Texas, who suffered from a massive wildfire in mid-October, followed soon after by torrential rains and major flooding. All that’s on top of a destructive double whammy of a tornado and floods they experienced in May.

Volunteer in Texas Samaritan’s Purse has deployed staff and a disaster relief unit—a tractor-trailer stocked with generators, tools, and supplies—to assist homeowners in cleaning out their homes damaged by the recent wildfire and floods.

Bastrop is a town of about 7,500 residents some 30 miles southeast of the Texas capital, Austin. For many, memories of the 2011 inferno that ravaged more than 1,600 homes are still fresh.

At work in Jim and Marcia's home in Bastrop, Texas.

At work in Jim and Marcia’s home in Bastrop, Texas.

“This community has been through four disasters in the past four years. They are tired,” explained Tim Haas, Samaritan’s Purse manager of U.S. Disaster Relief. “So it’s unrealistic for us to think we can recruit a local volunteer base as a viable group to help.

“The bottom line is we need volunteers,” Haas said.

Most of our help to Bastrop County, which is bisected by the Colorado River, will be in the form of mudouts and chainsaw work, with some skid-steer work. Our base church is River Valley Christian Fellowship in Bastrop.

“God Has Really Been Good to Us”
We have already helped Jim and Marcia Abbey. They’ve been married for 49 years and have lived in their home in nearby Del Valle for the past 23 years. Although disasters have struck their community before, this is the first time they were directly affected.

As floodwaters rushed in, Jim and Marcia abandoned their home. To escape, the couple had to drive through about a foot of water. But they couldn’t see the road in front of them. Before long, a pickup truck with a spotlight on its front—sweeping back and forth—showed up, and Jim and Marcia waited until it passed so they could follow it out. That spotlight enabled them to see the road and make it to safety.

At work in Jim and Marcia's home.

At work in Jim and Marcia’s home.

Marcia stands amazed at how that truck appeared in the first place because the direction from which it came was completely flooded and impassable. “I don’t know where that truck came from, but I do know who sent it,” she said. “God was in that.”

When Jim and Marcia returned to their home, they discovered that water had come up four feet in their garage and two feet in their home. Jim described the flooding as overwhelming, and Marcia said the task of cleaning up their home would be daunting.

Enter Samaritan’s Purse. Staff put the couple at ease and said not to worry. Volunteers tore out waterlogged walls and flooring, but they took special care and extra time working around the recently remodeled kitchen countertops and were able to salvage them. That especially pleased Marcia.

“God has really been good to us in this time of disaster,” she said. “We are blessed in so many ways.”

Volunteer in TexasExpressing thanks for the compassion extended to them by Samaritan’s Purse, Marcia said, “God keeps putting people who are willing to work in our lives. They are offering us both moral and physical support.”

Jim added, “We are optimistic and trust that God is faithful.”

Crisis-trained chaplains from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s Rapid Response Team have also deployed alongside Samaritan’s Purse. Two chaplains went out to a worksite and, while there, a teenage boy who lived nearby walked over to see if they had any gas. They didn’t, but the chaplains offered to drive him to a gas station to fill up his canister.

“We are optimistic and trust that God is faithful.”

As they talked with the boy, the chaplains sensed an opening to present the Gospel and the plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. Right there at the gas station, the teenager committed his life to follow Jesus. When the chaplains dropped the boy off at his house, he ran inside and brought out three friends, saying they needed to hear the same Good News. The other three boys prayed to receive Christ as well.

God is at work in Bastrop. Will you join Him?

Please continue in prayer for homeowners and for our staff and volunteers.

U.S. Disaster Relief Samaritan's Purse mobilizes and equips thousands of disaster relief volunteers to provide emergency aid to U.S. victims of wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. In the aftermath of major storms, we often stay behind to rebuild houses for people with nowhere else to turn for help.

U.S. Disaster Relief 013622