Harvey roared ashore between Port Aransas and Port O’Connor, as a Category 4 hurricane on Friday, August 25 around 11 PM. After devastating Rockport and other areas around Corpus Christi, it slowly crept north and dumped historic levels of water on the Houston area. As a result, thousands of homes were destroyed.
Many congregations served as shelters to those whose homes are flooded, or who had to evacuate. St. John Lutheran Church in Bellville Texas, Christ Lutheran in El Campo Texas, and Tree of Life Lutheran Church in Conroe Texas are just a few examples. St. Paul Lutheran Church in La Grange Texas sheltered two nursing homes that evacuated:
However, some congregational facilities were themselves flooded. Over 20 congregations had flooding of some kind or another. For some it was a centimeter. For others it was four feet. If you’ve ever flooded, you know even a little water means replacing flooring, drywall and belongings.
Here are five congregations that took particularly hard hits.
1. Faith Lutheran Church in Dickinson Texas, below, took 3 feet of water like much of the town which was under mandatory evacuation. Pastor Deb Grant shared this amazing photo.
2. Messiah Lutheran Church in Cypress, Texas (NW Houston) had 3 to 6 inches of water throughout all of their buildings, including a new addition that they had just added, according to Deacon Lynette Martel and Pastor Brad Otto.
3. Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southwest Houston had water throughout the entire building, eight eh exception of their new sanctuary, according to Pastor Marvin Havard.
4. Christ the King Lutheran Church in Houston’s Rice Village took on water around the property which quickly receded, leaving a few inches of water in their basement sacristy and choir rooms according to Pastors Karin Liebster and Duane Larson.
5. St. Paul lutheran Church in Baytown, Texas Pastor Nancy Simpson
It’s important to remember that many congregational facilities stayed dry, but their members homes flooded, leaving these communities in crisis and struggling.
These congregations will have a difficult time, in large part because insurance companies do not like to insure congregations so close to the coast. Quite a few these congregations had no flood insurance.
The good news is, ministry continues. Evacuees were sheltered in homes and churches. 5,000 people stayed at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. There have been, and continue to be, touching acts of kindness from strangers. The church is the church, regardless of buildings.