‘The church was just so overwhelmingly warm and friendly,’ one evacuee says. ‘It just made me cry.’
First Place, In-depth Coverage, Associated Church Press
By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle
BELTON, Texas — In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, strangers became like family.
Christians motivated by their love for Jesus opened their hearts — and their church buildings — to men, women and children fleeing a storm that flooded tens of thousands of homes and caused at least 82 deaths.
“I couldn’t put it into words. They’ve treated us like we were royalty from some foreign country,” retired Army Col. Chuck Emmerich, 81, said after spending four nights in the Belton Church of Christ gymnasium, about 200 miles northwest of Houston.
“They’ve treated us just like family, really,” added Emmerich, who was using a walker after stepping on glass during his evacuation and requiring treatment at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood.
A police boat rescued Emmerich, his wife, Marjorie, and their mixed-breed terrier, Mejia, on Sunday, Aug. 27, as floodwaters rose in their Houston-area home.
When the Pearland, Texas, residents went to bed about 10:30 p.m. that Saturday, Aug. 26, there wasn’t even a puddle in their yard, Emmerich said. But when he got up to go to the bathroom about midnight, his feet squished into wet carpet.
“We’re flooding!” he told his wife.
Related story: In a small Texas town, a church becomes a hub for Harvey relief (reporting from La Grange, Texas)
These stories appear in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle.