BROWNSVILLE?Disaster relief volunteers from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention were providing meals and assisting in cleanup in the Rio Grande Valley the week after Hurricane Dolly hit the far south Texas coast July 23.
Baptist volunteers were also working in the Mexican border town of Matamoros, across the Rio
Grande from Brownsville.
SBTC feeding units served in Rio Grande City and McAllen, about 70 miles inland, while assessment and cleanup teams were working in the coastal town of Port Isabel. First Baptist Church of
Brownsville was housing the cleanup and assessment teams, with assistance from First Baptist Church of Port Isabel, said Jim Richardson, SBTC Disaster Relief director.
As of July 29, the work had yielded at least two professions of faith.
Meanwhile, the SBTC’s Operation GO Mexico ministry, First Baptist Church of Brownsville, and Baptist Global Response were collaborating in Matamoros.
“Hurricane Dolly brought torrential rains and devastating winds to the area,” Richardson wrote in an e-mail. “Many of the families in Matamoros have been affected. First Baptist Church, Brownsville, and Operation GO are distributing rice and beans to those affected by Hurricane Dolly and sharing the hope of our Lord Jesus in the process.”
SBTC volunteers were cooking 10,000 meals a day for the Salvation Army canteens in McAllen, Richardson said. At First Baptist Church, Rio Grande City, volunteers prepared meals for the American Red Cross the weekend after the storm.
Churches from the Gulf Coast westward toward McAllen were affected by blackouts, falling trees and wind damage. Initially, 200,000 homes were without electricity, news reports said.
The cleanup and recovery work in Port Isabel, across the bridge from the South Padre Island resort community, yielded professions of faith from a husband and wife, said Julian Moreno, who was leading the assessment work there.
“It was our first work order in Port Isabel,” Moreno said. “The young boy in the home has been attending First Baptist Church, Port Isabel, but the parents have never attended the church, which is bilingual. So now the parents have made professions of faith and they plan to be at the church next Sunday.”
Moreno said the greatest needs in the coastal area around Port Isabel, where Dolly hit hardest, are chainsaws and blue tarps to cover damaged houses and businesses.
Janice Young, a member and bookkeeper at Portway Baptist Church in Brownsville, spent the night before the storm hit and all day July 23 at the church, which sheltered about 60 people who rode out the storm there.
Brownsville is about 20 miles west of South Padre Island.
“We had some damage on the steeple and water damage inside the church,” Young said. “We lost a couple of ceiling tiles and the rug was wet from the entrance to about three pews back. It’s a mess around here.”
The storm also damaged Young’s mobile home and knocked out electricity in her neighborhood.
In McAllen, pastor Luis Canchola of Cornerstone Baptist Church said his city was not as heavily hit as Brownsville to the east, but the damage was notable.
“We meet in a plaza, and there was some damage to the roof. The landscaping around it was damaged, trees uprooted, marquee blown out all in pieces this morning. As far as the interior of the church, thank God, it’s OK.”
Canchola said church members placed 50-pound sandbags around the entrances to the space where the church meets to prevent water damage.