Friday, September 19, 2008

Galveston Churches Report and NCP Church Update

September 19 Update from GP Rev. Mike Cole:

Two PDA volunteers, Paul Reiter and Milton Fulton, and I went onto Galveston Island to inspect our church sites and survey the community needs. Everything you have seen on the news about Galveston is true. The community is devastated. Having seen the damage first-hand, I can’t imagine that there is any home that is not affected by flood water, wind or both. You will read more detailed reports on the church buildings below, but the more important information is the impact of this storm on our members and communities.

Clay Faulk, pastor at Providence PC in Nederland, sent an excellent reminder that the church is not the building – the church is the people and our people are hurting from devastating losses. Our initial reports have been about our buildings, I suppose, because our church buildings are our rallying point for worship and nurture. Now I’d like to begin to gather information on the community impact of this hurricane. How have our church members and the members of our communities been affected? Please send in your assessments for us to share as we develop our response to the human need. I realize this won’t be scientific, but it will provide more information than we have presently.

Today, members of the presbytery Disaster Recovery Team, PDA volunteers, presbytery staff and other interested persons met to begin to assess the needs and frame a response. We are actively talking about establishing at least two volunteer villages in the presbytery that will host work groups from outside our area. There will also be a need for local work groups to participate in weekend projects. My encouragement continues to be to connect directly church-to-church to help in clean up and restoration.

The Golden Triangle Area (Beaumont/Orange, Bridge City/Port Arthur) already has an organization(SETIO) in place that is prepared to receive work groups immediately. If you have a group ready to work, please call Harland Merriam (409)673-0720. SETIO will have a permanent phone number established for volunteer coordination on Monday afternoon and I will get that number out in my Monday update.

Please urge your congregations to contribute to PDA (www.pcusa.org/pda) to support the long-term recovery efforts within our presbytery. PDA has the background to help us formulate a long-term recovery plan and needs the financial support to fund this recovery effort which will last several years.

Here’s a challenge for your congregation: put together clean-up buckets (contents of each bucket listed on www.pcusa.org/pda/help/goh.htm) to help individuals with the clean-up of their flooded homes. We will send out a drop-off site for the buckets so they can get to those who need them.

Harland Merriam, the pastor at St. Andrews PC in Beaumont, asked a question of the group who met today: “If not us, who?” We have an opportunity to passionately engage our communities. Let’s get busy.

Galveston, Emmanuel – There was at least of five feet of water in the sanctuary. The pews etc. will need to be removed and dried out. This small Hispanic congregation will need significant help in restoring the building.

Galveston, West Isle – It appears that the sanctuary did get some flood water. The kitchen and education building both have silt covering the floors and evidence of water damage. This west-end congregation will need help with restoration.

Galveston, FPC – The flood waters invaded the education building and chapel. It appears that water also impacted the air conditioning units, the fellowship Hall and perhaps even the sanctuary.

Galveston, Westminster – The steeple copper sheathing was torn off, but no damage was sustained by the sanctuary or education building.

Nederland, Providence – Clay Faulk reports that even though the congregation meets in a facility that was not significantly damaged, some of the congregation members have been disastrously affected by flooding and wind. Some congregants live in the Bridge City area, which as devastated by the storm surge. Bridge City has taken a devastating hit. Those that reside in the city were flooded. The height of the water varies from a few inches to more than 8 ft. Estimates are that as many as 10,000 homes in the Bridge City area are flooded, many with mud and muck in their homes.

Houston, Pinecrest – Many members are in need of assistance with their personal homes. Elder Tracy Hooper will coordinate volunteer work assignments: thooper62@aol.com; cell: (832) 372-4778

Houston, First African NCD – Aluu Nnali reports: None of our members suffered any significant loss. I have been in touch with them all and they all seem to be recovering pretty well. Some that had no light, water or communication have had that restored. Also, the building where we hold our services was not touched, except that the building has been without power ever since. Last Sunday we worshiped without power and till date power has not been restored. But this is minimal compared to what some of our brethren are going through. We have been in prayers for all and trust that God will see everyone through this. We are okay and need nothing. Pls do not hesitate to inform us if we can be of any help anyhow.

Houston, Memorial Drive--has no power. All activities at the church are cancelled through Tuesday, September 23. Worship services will be held this Sunday in the Fellowship Hall at 8:30, 9:45 and 11:15.

Houston, Fuente de Esperanza NCD – Mauricio Chacon reports: We at Fuente are fine as well as my home. In the church several trees came down. Not considerable damage to the buildings. We don't have electricity. On Tuesday we gave water and ice to the community and today we visited a trailer park and gave food, water, and other supplies. Please let us know how we can help. We already cleaned our church. On Wednesday we have a prayer meeting and Sunday we will have our worship service.

Houston, St. John’s – Jon Burnham reports: St. John's still has no power but we had very little damage other than a gutter on the sanctuary. I still have no power at home and a pine tree on my house

Houston, Thien An – Viet Ho reports: Thanks God, Thien An Presbyterian church was OK. Not to evacuate. Thien An's members were OK, their houses sustained no serious damages. Almost the fences or some roof covers were damaged. The church building was OK but out of power. We had service last Sunday without power. It made us to remember some kind of the underground meeting worship services in Viet Nam. We hope that we will get electricity back in this weekend.

Houston St. Paul – Bill Folts reports: St. Paul Houston is ok. Minor damage due to several trees falling on the Educational Building. We also had a window in the 'steeple' of the church break from something hitting it. So there is water damage in the sanctuary.

Livingston, Indian PC – Debbie Kleinman reports: We just received power this evening in Livingston! The Reservation is still being worked on. 'Will let you know how things develop this week.We are Blessed to have running water. "God is Good! All the Time!"

Baytown, Faith – Wendy Bailey reports: The church has missing shingles and trees down. They intend to have a simple worship there on Sunday at 10:30 am

Houston, St. Thomas – Larry Spencer reports that the church is one of the few places where electrical power was on during the hurricane as well as after. Have assisted Turning Point ministers in placement of elderly residents. The church sustained minor damage. The congregation has responded extremely well to those in need.

Crockett, FPC – Georganna Bozeman reports that the church fared well. The church worship on Sunday was informal and the time was mostly spent talking and being sure that we could account for all of our members and in prayer for all of our brothers and sisters in the hardest hit areas. Our best thoughts are with all of you.

Nacogdoches, Westminster – Steve Newton reports that the church is just cleaning up a mountain of limbs, but none on the church. We did loose a few shingles. If anyone is interested in other problems, they can pray for the termites eating away at our church kitchen. They have been appropriately threatened and we are calling out the big guns tomorrow to get rid of them.

La Porte, St. James – Mary Currie reports that after the storm on Saturday afternoon and they found a window broken in the choir practice room, water on the sanctuary floor and classrooms and kitchen floor caused by the flat roof leaking. This additionally caused the "dining room" ceiling to begin to fall in, etc. Additionally, the main peaked roof covering the sanctuary had a layer of shingles stripped leaving the original shingles exposed but apparently no leaking occurred. And finally, the storage shed shingles have been stripped off the roof.

Eagle Lake, FPC – Ed Triem reports that the church did not sustain any damage.

Orange, FPC – Jeannie Alexander reports that the church will have ONE SERVICE SUNDAY AT 11:00 in the GILLESPIE BUILDING. No Sunday School. It will be a real service and Mike Umbenhaur will be preaching his very first sermon for the congregation. Please pass the word as everyone's email is not working and send this to anyone that I didn't have an email for. The Sanctuary building is off limits right now due to the damage from the storm.

Bay City, FPC – Anna Strickland reports that Bay City is fine. Most minor damage in way of trees, power on everywhere in County. Please advise how we can help. Prayers and Blessings to all our brothers & sisters who are suffering.

Pearland, Peace - David Wilson reports that they don’t have power yet … and are planning on one worship service at 10:00. The building got some water around the doors, but that’s it. All of the signs for the shopping center came down except for the Peace Presbyterian sign. They feel blessed.

Trinity, FPC – Lots of trees down but no major damage.

Trawick, FPC – Lots of trees down but only minor damage.

Baytown, Faith – Richard Kleiman reports that the church had lots of trees down and lots of shingles blown away but no real structural damage that we can tell at this point. Our Session met yesterday and shared information about our members and then divided the members we had not heard from and started making calls. So far so good -- only property issues and power outages. The church is without power but we will gather on Sunday at 10:30 AM for a service of thankfulness whether or not we have power.

High Island – The Retreat Center – Carrie Walker reports that the center made it through the storm “like a champ.” The Center will be housing several teachers from the High Island Independent School District whose homes were dmaged or destroyed by the hurricane.

Brenham– Trey Hegar reports nothing but tree limbs down. They have electricity.

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