HOUSTON, TX (September 8, 2017) – The Cuban refugee and artist told Covenanter Cindy Wu that he wanted to donate some of his proceeds from an upcoming refugee art show to help with hurricane relief.
“And he is almost penniless!” said Wu, who attends Access Covenant Church. The man had initially had fled to Guyana, a country at the top of South America. “To get here, he literally went by boat, foot, car, and train to get all the way to Texas. He was so grateful to Houston for taking him in, and he wanted to give back.”
It is the kind of generosity by people in Houston that has inspired Wu as she and the city begin to recover from the shock and damage left by Hurricane Harvey.
Among them, Covenanters – many of whom had their own homes heavily damaged or destroyed – are doing what they can to help others. “All Houston ECC churches are working almost 24/7 to
help the members and friends in their own congregations, as well as reaching out to their neighborhoods,” said Garth Bolinder, superintendent of the Midsouth Conference today in an email.
Woven Covenant Church spent three days cleaning and gutting the house of member Tracy A, who lost nearly everything she owned when the water level reached several feet high. (See video here)
Some 80 percent of Houstonians whose homes were affected, including Covenanters, had no flood insurance because most of them had never needed it before and the houses were built outside the flood plain.
None of the Covenant churches sustained more than minor damage, Bolinder said, although the pastors of several congregations had to evacuate. They have since been able to return home and found only minor damage.
Wu’s home suffered relatively little damage but came within a foot of probably being destroyed when the Brazos river stopped just short of breaching a nearby levee. It had been projected to rise three feet above the levee, which would have flood her neighborhood in the suburban city of Sugar Land.
Wu said it was “chilling” when their family was ordered to evacuate. She and her family stayed with her mother and monitored a website that gave continual updates on how high the water was rising.
“The damage we incurred is minor compared with what others have experienced. At any other time, this would have been a big deal, but today we have a better perspective,” she said.
Wu added, “The hole in the ceiling lies right above a verse that is inscribed on our walls: ‘As the Father has loved me so have I loved you. Abide in my love” (John 15:9),’ “Every time I look at the damage, I am also forced to look at those words, reminding me to abide in the love of God throughout every hardship. He will get us, our church, and our city through this!”
Most residents are able to reach their neighborhoods by car or large truck, but some still need to use small boats. There still also are sections threatened by rising water in the reservoirs.
People lost more than their homes. Bolinder noted that more than 500,000 cars in the Houston area were ruined.
To help Houstonians recover, a special giving page has been established for hurricane victims. So far, more than $100,000 has been raised, said Cecilia Williams, executive minister of Love Mercy Do Justice.