Churches, SBTC DR assist Austin area in aftermath of February ice storm

An ice storm impacted a great portion of the Lone Star State this past week, leaving many people without power or with damage to their homes due to falling power lines or trees. UNSPLASH PHOTO

AUSTIN—The Texas-sized winter storm that pummeled the Lone Star State during the final days of January and the beginning of February caused freeways to become massively snarled in Dallas. Central Texas and East Texas were not spared, either, prompting Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief to quickly deploy recovery teams to affected regions.

In the Austin area, First Baptist Church of Pflugerville suffered minor damage from falling tree limbs weighed down by ice. Church members began clearing debris by Feb. 2, said SBTC DR task force member Mike Northen, a retired FBC Pflugerville pastor. Northen said that as of late Friday, Feb. 3, his neighborhood in Pflugerville was still without power as Oncor repair crews worked diligently to remedy the situation.

“There was ice all over the city,” said Chris Gary, children’s and administrative pastor at FBC Pflugerville.

A dozen men from the church cleared fallen limbs from the parking lot and assisted residents around the church, including an elderly couple just across the street. The woman had feared that her husband, who suffers from a heart condition, would become ill if he tried to do the work, so the couple contacted FBC Pflugerville to get the phone number of the “professional tree people” who were working at the church. After Gary’s assistant explained the matter, church volunteers used pole saws and chainsaws to cut up and remove two large trees that blocked the couple’s driveway and garage.

“As things have thawed out, the situation is getting bigger,” said Scottie Stice, SBTC DR director, noting that reports of damage had come from Dripping Springs, Austin, Georgetown, and Pflugerville. “We are starting to hear reports of needs in Tyler and Athens [in East Texas], too,” he said. “The ice has done considerable damage to power lines and trees.”

An SBTC DR recovery and chainsaw team from First Baptist Bellville, led by Mike Phillips, will arrive in the Pflugerville area on Monday, Feb. 6, Stice confirmed, adding that the deployment could grow as the situation progresses.

Chaplains and assessors will deploy to affected areas once teams receive addresses of homes with damage. Other ministry areas will respond as the deployment expands, Stice said.

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