With limited city resources, Kountze church becomes “shelter of last resort”

KOUNTZE—At the outset of Hurricane Harvey, Southern Baptists of Texas Disaster Relief task force member and pastor of First Baptist Kountze Daniel White assisted in deploying DR units across the state, until Harvey moved east from Houston, flooding Beaumont and surrounding communities, including his own.

First Baptist Kountze sprang to the aid of those affected.

“My church became a ‘shelter of last resort’ for evacuees who were rescued by boats,” White said. “We began preparing meals for the evacuees and now we are preparing meals for city and county workers, first responders and the nursing home.”

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White said SBTC DR volunteers prayed with 27, provided 30 showers, did 14 loads of laundry and prepared 425 meals on Aug. 31.

“Our operations center was located at First Baptist Kountze, with Daniel at the helm. When flooding affected the town, we had to relieve Daniel of his command so he could minister to his church, his family and the community,” Scottie Stice, SBTC DR director, told the TEXAN.

 “We are preparing breakfast and supper for first responders,” Daniel’s wife, D’Ann, reported, adding that they are also preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner for hurricane evacuees and community members, including residents of a local nursing home that were not able to evacuate and were running out of food.

“Power is becoming an issue,” D’Ann White added.

SBTC director of disaster relief Scottie Stice confirmed that city of Kountze was suffering water and sewage system issues.

“All resources are limited,” D’Ann White reported. The county was unable to transport evacuees as of Aug. 31. While some have found places to go, First Baptist Kountze lodged 22 people, 14 dogs and 3 cats.

Late last night, the 22 evacuees were joined by a Fort Hood soldier, his wife and three children, including a newborn, who were trying to get home to Florida, Daniel White told the TEXAN.

“The county assures us evacuees will be transported to shelters in the morning [Sept. 1],” D’Ann White reported.

The evacuation may be stalled, however.

A shelter in nearby Jasper is no longer an option because a power transmission line went down, leaving Jasper and Newton counties are without power.

 “We appreciate Daniel, the volunteers, and the church who responded very quickly to minister to the needs in Kountze,” Stice said. “The flooding hit them very quickly. They didn’t see this coming right then.“

With White and First Baptist Kountze otherwise occupied, the SBTC DR command center moved to Grapevine under the direction of Mike Jansen, Stice said, calling the operation a “communication and administration nerve center” of DR response.

Get up-to-date information, find opportunities to volunteer, and give online at sbtexas.com/harvey.

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