Spike in Texas disasters prompts hundreds of Christian volunteers to meet the challenge

Volunteers with Texans on Mission help erect a tarp to limit damage to Dyess Grove Baptist Church in Temple, Texas, after a tornado struck the town on May 22, 2024.
Volunteers with Texans on Mission help erect a tarp to limit damage to Dyess Grove Baptist Church in Temple, Texas, after a tornado struck the town on May 22, 2024. | Texans on Mission/Ferrell Foster

It has been a spring to remember — terrible memories for disaster survivors.
Texans on Mission wrapped up responses to wildfires in the Panhandle on March 28.

On April 10, a string of springtime storms began striking across the state.

“We have responded to 11 declared disasters already this year,” said Rupert Robbins, associate director of TXM Disaster Relief. “In all of last year, we responded to 20. The year before, it was a total of 14.”

After that comment, another storm struck Tyler and other communities in East Texas. Robbins said TXM is still evaluating the needs related to that most recent event.

“We typically only stand up an Incident Management Team when we pull in teams from other parts of the state to coordinate multiple teams,” Robbins said. “In May this year, TXM had four IMT units deployed simultaneously.”

While spring is always a busy time for storms, it is unusual to have multiple large deployments at the same time.

“It has been a significant challenge for our volunteers, but they have responded with the highest possible level of commitment, stamina and persistence,” Robbins said. “It is just inspiring to watch the gratification these men and women enjoy as they work so diligently."

“Their work is often both physical and spiritual. When physical destruction is everywhere, it’s still the people we encounter who are our top priority,” Robbins continued. “We try to be Jesus to them in both word and deed.”

In the last two months, Texans on Mission has deployed relief efforts in response to tornado-related damage in Port Arthur, Kirbyville, Rising Star, Valley View, Temple, Levelland, San Marcos and Canyon Lake area neighboring communities.

Volunteers also responded to flooding along the Trinity, East San Jacinto and West San Jacinto rivers and flooding in West Texas, including the Hawley area. Texans on Mission also served those impacted by straight-line winds — at Category 3 hurricane strength — in northwest Houston and straight-line winds in a large urban portion of Dallas, Kaufman, Rockwall and Tarrant counties.

“Just reviewing this list may leave the impression this was just nine responses,” Robbins said. “But most of these storms and floods left damage across wide areas, sometimes stretching hundreds of square miles.”

“We have deployed hundreds of volunteers into the affected areas,” he continued. “We have had out-of-state Disaster Relief units who have and are planning to come assist us.”

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At least 755 volunteers have served with Texans on Mission this year, totaling 39,209 hours worked. Four deployment efforts remain active, which means those numbers will increase. 

Since the flooding in southeast Texas began, Texans on Misson received nearly 1,100 work requests. It had received 805 requests for all of 2023. 

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief units from Arkansas, Louisiana, Arizona, Alabama and the Southern Baptist Convention of Texas have been involved. 

Texans on Mission empowers Christians to take on the biggest challenges around the globe. Since 1967, volunteers have delivered help, hope and healing to millions of hurting people and raising up the next generation to do likewise. The organization has helped start and train disaster relief groups in all 50 states, giving birth to the third-largest disaster relief network in the nation.

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