A group of 61 Baylor University students will aid Houston residents this weekend as South Texas continues its recovery from Hurricane Harvey.
Along with three Baylor faculty and staff members, the students will clear out homes of elderly people and young families, Baylor Missions program coordinator Jill Hatcher said. The houses sat in about four feet of water for 10 days after Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane along Texas’ Gulf Coast and later caused major flooding and damage in Houston, Hatcher said.
The trip will be Thursday through Sunday.
“I think what’s great about it is that the students are not just posting things on social media,” Hatcher said. “They’re putting feet to their words. You’ve got to love that.”
Students were ready to help immediately after the hurricane devastated the area in late August through early September, but this three-day weekend for Baylor’s fall break was the perfect time, she said.
“You want to be there to use the skills that you have and not be frustrated when the work is beyond what you’re able to do,” Hatcher said. “They needed people with chainsaws and boats when they first began rescue. Now they’re in recovery mode. … They’re ready for us now.”
Coordinating with Preemptive Love Coalition, a nonprofit emergency relief organization, the group will remove remaining items in the homes so the next step of rebuilding can start. The families who own the homes have been displaced and most do not have flood insurance, Hatcher said.
The group will stay at South Main Baptist Church in midtown Houston. Other groups involved in the effort include the North American Mission Board and a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship partnership with Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation.
The cost per student is $250, but students paid $50 each thanks to donor contributions, Hatcher said.
“We are so thankful for our donors who have given for this trip and will be giving for future trips,” she said.
Proceeds from sales of Baylor’s Christmas ornaments will also help fund future mission trips for Harvey relief. Another trip to the Gulf Coast is planned for Spring Break.
“I decided to go on this trip to serve people affected by this tragedy the best I can,” said Claire Crites, a Baylor student from Trabuco Canyon, California. “I am an out-of-state student, and seeing my friends from Houston react with resilience and immense generosity to this tragedy inspired me to come out and serve.”