More than 6000 homes were affected in late June when torrential rains caused widespread flooding in the Rio Grande Valley, especially in Weslaco, Mercedes, and Pharr. The full extent of the damage and need is still being assessed. According to current FEMA registrations, 8457 homes have been damaged and 1662 destroyed.
Early Response Teams from Rio Texas have already deployed to impacted areas. Five teams have been involved in the initial clean up, and many more groups will be needed.
According to Eugene Hileman, Rio Texas Disaster Response Coordinator, it can be challenging to get people to respond to disasters like this.
"One of the amazing things about disasters is that some very significant events go almost unnoticed outside of the immediate area where they occur," said Hileman.
Rev. Laura Merrill, Assistant to Bishop Robert Schnase, worries that all the recent crises may slow down the response.
“We run the risk of what experts call 'compassion fatigue' sometimes, as it seems the crises never stop coming," said Merrill. "But I also know that the time we spend helping other people blesses us in ways we cannot have imagined beforehand. Especially for people who have never traveled to the Rio Grande Valley, this is an opportunity I hope we will find a way to take."
How Can You Help?
While Volunteers in Mission (VIM) teams will be needed eventually, right now Early Response Teams are urgently needed. Financial support is also necessary to equip teams and purchase supplies.
Trained Early Response Teams can register to be deployed here: https://riotexasresponse.org/volunteer-for-ert/
Churches can give financially by sending a check marked Advance #2050 to the Rio Texas Conference office.
Individuals may give online at https://riotexasresponse.org/take-action/