Monday, November 30, 2009

Hurricane Season Over

We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends. It was great for our staff to take a much needed break.

The big news today however is that we have reached the end of another hurricane season. Thanks to El Nino, we had a very light storm season featuring only a couple threatening hurricanes.

But there is always next year to prepare for, in addition to all kinds of other catastrophes like floods, fires, and tornadoes. You should take this time to review or create your disaster plan for your home of workplace.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

We have a lot to be thankful for this year as things are turning around in Galveston. Thanks to volunteer efforts people are moving home and many have a home for Thanksgiving to host their families.

TEDRD will be closing down for the rest of the week.

Thanks to everyone who continues to help out and we wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Home for the Holidays

On Christmas night, 2008, Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson walked from their FEMA trailer to their dismantled home in Galveston and set up their make-shift dinner table. The walls were bare around them, and the floor was dirty from the remnants of Hurricane Ike.Mr. Stevenson lit a candle and the family proceeded to pray for the better part of an hour. They didn’t know how they would ever fix the home they had lived in for much of their life together. They could only pray for help.

A few weeks later, a volunteer caseworker with Texas Episcopal Disaster Relief and Development, Kathy Hill, found the Stevensons and offered assistance. Soon after, their home was gutted by volunteers, and a few months later in June, volunteers began repairs on the home.

Mr. Stevenson’s home is located just a few blocks from Offatts Bayou, and as the water rose, it flooded his home to just beneath his ceiling during Hurricane Ike’s tremendous storm surge. His entire home needed to be repaired.

Over the course of the summer, youth groups, college students, local workers, and volunteers from as far away as San Francisco worked on Mr. Stevenson’s home. Every Monday, Mr. Stevenson would greet the volunteers and thank them.

A very large man, Mr. Stevenson is an imposing presence. At the time, he sported a long gray beard and even longer gray hair pulled back into a pony-tail. Usually sweaty from his own repair work on his home and fixing old motors that fill his backyard, Mr. Stevenson looked like man that few would like to cross paths with. But in truth, Mr. Stevenson is a gentle man who has been sober for over 25 years. He walks with a cane and grows his hair out every year to donate to Locks of Love.

One Monday in July, I was visiting with the most recent volunteers, a youth group from Waco, and Mr. Stevenson began telling us about the storm and his home. He said he came back after the storm to see all of his possessions destroyed, and only the shell of a home. He told us the story of his Christmas prayers, and how desperate he was for anyone to help him piece his life back together.

Then he looked directly at those high-schoolers and said, “You are God-sends.” He paused as tears welled up in his eyes and repeated as his voice choked up, “You are God-sends.” His gruff exterior melted into the graciousness of a survivor of tragedy. Without another word, Mr. Stevenson turned around walked slowly back to his FEMA trailer.

The youth group was left in a state of profound silence. It was obvious how important and meaningful this work was. They realized, as I did, that lives were being changed, and perhaps saved through the simple sacrifice of time and a little hard labor.

Throughout the summer, Mr. Stevenson told his stories to every group and came to the brink of tears almost every time. He put a face to devastation that occurred across the Texas coast, and he forced everyone to realize that the pain and troubles don’t stop when the flood waters recede. The desperation continues until help is found, until survivors find their God-sends.

Mr. Stevenson’s home is now complete, and this Christmas he will celebrate the holidays in a newly repaired and refurbished home. He will say prayers of joy and thanks and look forward to a new chapter in his life.

Texas Episcopal Disaster Relief and Development has helped more than 130 people and families like Mr. Stevenson, and will continue to do so throughout the next year. If you would like to schedule a trip to Galveston to help repair and rebuild homes, contact Luke Blount, Volunteer Coordinator at or 713.252.9693.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mr. Stevenson Moves Home

After many months of living in a FEMA trailer, Mr. Stevenson moved back home this week. Hundreds of volunteers worked on his home, gutting and then repairing the structure.

There are still a few minor touches to do, but Mr. Stevenson and his wife were incredibly happy to be home. Below are a couple photos. More can be found on our facebook page.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Keep on Chugging

Last week Church of the Redeemer - Irving spend time with us in Galveston to repair homes. They also provided some of our staff with an incredible meal, for which we are extremely thankful. We are also thankful for Brendan O'Sullivan-Hale's efforts and willingness to spend the week here.

This weekend, we also had Christ the King - Atascocita helping out in Galveston in addition to Christ Church Cathedral - Houston, and Trinity - The Woodlands helping out in La Porte. So much work was done, and there was spectacular fellowship.

Thanks to everyone for your help!
Pictures below:

Church of the Redeemer - Irving with Eric

Church of the Redeemer Irving at Manor Way

Church of the Redeemer - Irving at Avenue M

Christ the King - Atascocita

Monday, November 2, 2009

Church of the Incarnation - Dallas Spends Halloween in Galveston

Happy Halloween From Murphy

Church of the Incarnation - Dallas came to Galveston for Halloween weekend. They worked along side local islander, Cory as well. In addition to repairing houses, the group of around 20 got to enjoy Halloween Galveston-style in addition to the Lonestar Motorcycle Rally that attracted tens of thousands of bikers.

It was a very interesting and productive weekend for the COTI Crew. Thanks to all of them for their time and efforts. Pictures below:

Texas Episcopal Disaster Relief and Development's Fan Box