TIPP CITY — As people in parts of South Texas begin to make sense of the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, a local disaster response team is ready to help.
The Churches of Christ Disaster Response Team is poised to set up headquarters in Portland, Texas — not far from where the hurricane first made landfall in Rockport, Texas — where they will provide food, supplies and help in rebuilding homes.
“We’ve got a job to do,” co-founder Mark Cremeans of Tipp City said. “We’re ready.”
He and his wife Laura founded the team in 2004, which is overseen by the elders of the Cassel Hills Church of Christ in Vandalia and utilizes a warehouse in Tipp City.
The team has already sent several trailers of supplies to Portland and volunteers will begin arriving this weekend, Cremeans said.
The team works with churches in disaster-stricken areas to begin the recovery process, in this case, the North Bay Church of Christ in Portland.
“We go in and we help the churches in the area, we help them with their relief effort. We bring in volunteers from all over the country,” he explained.
The group will send at least five trailers carrying clothing, tools and building supplies to Texas, as well as a mobile kitchen and a mobile shower unit, Cremeans said.
The Cremeans will also live in an RV onsite during the process, he said. They stayed in Louisiana for a year and a half after Katrina.
“We were onsite constantly,” Cremeans said. “This one here has been said that it’s worse than Katrina, in different ways.”
The response team will also help those without insurance rebuild their homes, Cremeans said.
“We try to get the light turned on for them. We want them to be involved in rebuilding their homes. We help them get started and get them out of the stage of shock,” he said.
The category four hurricane hit Texas Friday and dumped heavy rains on the area, with some parts of Houston receiving nearly 50 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service.
Harvey, now a tropical storm, is expected to drop another 15 inches of rain on portions of southern Texas and Louisiana this week.
The affected area stretches along the Gulf Coast from Corpus Christi to Houston and inland to San Antonio and Austin.
The response team will make its headquarters in Portland, about 30 minutes from where the storm first hit land in Rockport. Residents in this area experienced severe wind damage to homes and property, as Hurricane Harvey was at its strongest when it first made landfall.
Houston, which experienced the worst of the flooding, is about three hours up the coast.
“We’re not able to get into Houston or where the eye came ashore, but we can go south of there,” he said.
Cremeans is expecting about 500 volunteers to arrive in Portland this weekend to cut trees and clear debris.
Over the last 13 years, the Churches of Christ Disaster Response Team has responded to wild fires, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes.
“It’s really hard. You almost have to build a wall to keep from feeling the guilt and all the stress. Going from one disaster to another is really hard, but we have to focus on how we can help people,” Cremeans said.
To help the team with its response efforts, donations may be made online or mailed to 836 S. Brown School Road in Vandalia.
The organization is seeking donations of new or gently used children’s clothing, mosquito spray, heavy duty rubber work gloves and gift cards to stores like Walmart, Lowe’s and Target.
For more information, or to register to volunteer, visit www.churchesofchristdrt.org.
Reach Cecilia at firstname.lastname@example.org