Nassau Bay Baptist and area churches feed Hurricane Harvey hotel evacuees

Seabrook—A random conversation between Melissa del Flora and a Harvey evacuee resulted in del Flora’s organizing food to feed 40 rooms full of displaced persons lodging at the Seabrook Quality Inn in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

After a month of arranging the meals, del Flora needed help and heard of Nassau Bay Baptist Church.

“Food would show up and drinks would come. She [del Flora] winged it for a month and got tired,” Dana Rust of Nassau Bay Baptist explained, calling herself “a freelance volunteer.”

Del Flora contacted Susan Bumpas, Nassau Bay director of preschool and children’s ministries. Susan and her husband, Bill, a Southern Baptists of Texas Convention media consultant, knew that Arkansas and Arizona disaster relief teams were feeding mud-out volunteers staying at University Baptist Church in the Clear Lake area.

The DR groups readily agreed to prepare meals for the families occupying 40 rooms at the Quality Inn, up to 100 meals per day, Bill Bumpas said.

Rust began organizing the delivery of the meals by Nassau Bay members and volunteers from other churches.

Rust and Bumpas both praised the Quality Inn’s manager, Moses Retiwala, for facilitating the feeding by allowing the church group to use the hotel’s dining room.

Retiwala, a Muslim from the Indian state of Gujarat who has lived in Texas 17 years, told the TEXAN he was glad his hotel could house the evacuees. Retiwala said he had gone to secondary school in India with Muslims, Farsi, Hindi and Christian friends, adding, “We grew up like a family. Today we live all over the world and are still good friends.”

“The families have been so thankful,” Bumpas added. “Many were overwhelmed when they heard folks from Arizona and Arkansas had cooked the meals for them. Many wanted to know why we were doing this for them. We were able to tell them that God had not forgotten them and there were people that love and care for them.”

When the Houston Downtown Food Bank sent 10 pallets of tuna, applesauce, candy bars, Pringles, soaps, body washes, MREs (meals ready to eat), Rust and volunteers packed them in boxes to distribute to other area hotels full of evacuees over the weekend of Oct. 7.

“Our church is grateful that God opened up this door of opportunity for us. This is just another example of how God has used our church following the storm.  We used our gym as a distribution center and ministered to hundreds of families that way. We also sent teams to help clear out flooded homes,” Bumpas said.

“We [at Nassau Bay] are not alone. Other churches have helped them out and have done what we are doing, found a hotel and tried to help them out,” Rust added.

The church provided meals through Oct. 10, when FEMA funds for the hotel lodgers ran out.

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