HOUSTON (Christian Examiner) – With flash flood warnings waking residents of America's fourth largest city today, yesterday's hope of receding waters have hampered volunteers who are waiting to descend on the city to help.
"The water has to go down before we can do anything, but when it does we will be quick to mobilize our recovery and feeding units," Scottie Stice, director of Disaster Relief Ministries for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention told Christian Examiner early this morning.
Floodwaters had begun to recede in Houston, according to reports by the city's Mayor Annise Parker. But the rivers and Bayous needed at least 24 hours of no rain after massive flooding Tuesday morning stranded motorists on congested highways, leading to dramatic water rescues and gridlock.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, in a news conference with the mayor and state Sen. Ted Cruz, pledged prayer for those affected by storms statewide, and for the families of those dead and missing.
Stice said the 50 volunteers units affiliated with the SBTC disaster relief ministries around the state have been on alert for a month, due to flooding, but that flash floods bring a unique challenge to the 5,000 who have trained for various relief operations.
"We can't predict 12 inches of rain in six hours," Stice said. "Everything is spread thin because we are trying to be where the 'hot spots' or high water is."
Thankfully, Stice said Southern Baptists network with the American Red Cross to provide food it can distribute in emergencies, and with other regional state Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams situations which call for more hands on deck.
And the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board through its disaster relief network in Alpharetta, Georgia, can coordinate equipment and personnel from across the country for major storms or events that require even more intense volunteer efforts, he said.
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is the largest network of trained disaster relief volunteers in America.
"God always provides for us," Stice said. "We always have what we need at just the right time."
About Houston, Stice says although there are currently no units or teams based in churches in the Houston area, there are plenty in surrounding areas. "We are ready," he said, but waiting for the water to go down.
Once his office receives the all clear, teams are equipped for various operations including feeding, recovery with chainsaw, mud out and blue tarp duties; communications; chaplains assessment; shower and laundry operations; water purification and more.
"Our motto is 'serving Christ in Crisis,'" Stice told the Examiner. "We are about ministry. We go out to meet needs and share the love of Christ in disaster scenes like the kids at the border in Brownsville or wherever we are needed. We want to serve every one. It's the compassion of the Lord Jesus Christ that drives us to do it."
For more information about SBTC Disaster Relief or how to contribute to their efforts, go online.