Texas Baptist Men


TBM Rebuild rescues Beaumont woman after 58 days of living in her attic following Imelda

General     3 weeks ago   by John Hall

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Tropical Depression Imelda made landfall in Southeast Texas Sept. 17. The rain fell and fell and fell some more. More than most people anticipated it would. And as it fell, the water rose higher and higher.

When it first started creeping in the house, Sonia, the single woman who lives in this small Beaumont home, began moving her belongings into the attic. Shortly after, she hoisted herself up there. There she stayed, riding out the storm.

Sonia’s been there ever since with the exception of a few trips to Houston for work. 58 days. 1,392 hours. 83,520 excruciating minutes. Surrounded by her stuff, hovering over a home she couldn't live in.

Until now. TBM volunteer teams first removed the damaged flooring and sheetrock in the days after the floodwaters receded. Now they’re back to install sheetrock, giving her something extra to be thankful for this Thanksgiving – a safe home as well as gift cards for a Thanksgiving dinner.

In two days, TBM transformed her home from unlivable to secure, empowering the resident to take another step in the recovery process. Along the way, volunteers bonded with her, taking her out to dinner and giving her a ride to visit her ailing father in the hospital.

The effort is part of a nearly two-week blitz by TBM Rebuild to help put homes and lives back together again that are still affected by Imelda. Spread across Beaumont, TBM lifted spirits as they lifted sheetrock.

“In many ways, what we’re seeing is a picture of what help, hope and healing through the gospel of Jesus Christ does,” said David Wells, who leads TBM Rebuild. “We are broken people, but God carefully makes us whole through a relationship with Him. As we work in these houses, we’re ministering to residents. We’re praying with them. We’re encouraging them. God cares deeply about them.”

About 50 volunteers from churches across the state are working during the rebuild effort, a growing part of TBM Disaster Relief ministries. The initiative allows larger church groups to respond to significant and long-term needs after disasters.

“The recovery process is much longer than most people realize,” Wells said. “Particularly after a large-scale disaster, people can continue struggling for months if not years. By walking and working alongside hurting people, we are helping them practically, emotionally and spiritually on that journey.”