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Sep 01, 2017 | Kevin Thompson

Beaumont Churches Provide Aid in Absence of Power, Water

As the remnants of Hurricane Harvey continue to move eastward, the greater Beaumont area (dubbed the Golden Triangle comprised of the area between Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange, Texas) is left reeling with high floodwaters, little electrical power and virtually no clean water supply.

“We’ve been using our parking lot to have rescue crews come in and out with boats,” said the Rev. Steven Balke, rector of St. Stephen’s, Beaumont. “So many gracious, generous people have been bringing us water and bug spray and supplies for people with babies. We could not be more thankful.”

In downtown Beaumont, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church was fortunate to suffer no major damage, with only minor leaks during the storm. “As we determine the needs within the congregation and our community over the next several days, we will develop plans to assist and meet those needs,” said the Rev. Tony Clark, rector at St. Mark’s. “This will truly be a marathon recovery, and each day will bring new challenges and opportunities.” 

Some water service had been restored in the Beaumont area on Friday, according to local newspaper The Beaumont Enterprise. The Neches River is expected to crest on September 2 at about 20 feet, bringing hope that waters will start to recede and repair and cleanup crews can start work to restore water and power in the area. The city’s primary and secondary water sources were knocked offline on Thursday, August 31. 

The Rev. Pat Ritchie, deacon at St. Stephen’s, Beaumont, took to Facebook to ask for bread. “We can't wash dishes without water and to be able to make sandwiches would be awesome,” Ritchie said. 

As relief efforts from FEMA and other organizations snake from the Rockport area in the Diocese of West Texas to Houston, aid to the Beaumont area has been slow to arrive due to stressed supply lines and the massive scope of damage caused by Harvey. St. Stephen’s is currently acting as a supply hub for anyone in need of water and food, but is in need of more donations, especially for diapers and baby formula. 

"This is a flood of record proportions, the likes of which are unheard of in our region," Beaumont mayor Becky Ames told NPR. “Our current priority is to secure the safety of those displaced to safer locations and centers that provide basic needs. 

Evacuees in the city’s shelters are now being taken via bus to San Antonio or flown to Dallas due to the lack of clean water. There is currently no timeline for when the city’s water supply will be restored.

“Long term our parish hall is going to be an emergency goods center in the city and we're happy to be holding worship services without interruption,” Balke said. “Good news is that the first HEB trucks have gotten through and so we'll be getting supplies.” 

St. Stephen's is currently accepting donations of water, canned goods, paper products, cleaning supplies and baby products to distribute them back out to people who need them.

You can find more Hurricane Harvey relief resources at epicenter.org/Harvey.

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