Update: Aug. 28, 2017: Lakewood Church issued a statement about partnering with Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse for relief efforts on Monday.
Earlier update: Lakewood Church informed congregants that due to the severe flooding, the campus was inaccessible.
Churches Gather Resources, Assist Displaced Texans Amid Deadly Flooding
Lakewood Church, located in Houston, Texas, has canceled services due to the severe flooding caused by Harvey. Other churches, similarly impacted, were gathering resources and rallying Christians to pray.
Although Harvey was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, officials warn that it remains a danger. At least five people have been killed by the storm (read a recent report on Harvey here).
“Due to the weather impact of Hurricane Harvey and concern for the safety of our members, all Lakewood Church worship services for this weekend, Saturday, August 26th and Sunday, August 27th have been cancelled,” read a statement on the Lakewood Church website.
The megachurch, led by pastor Joel Osteen and one of the country’s largest places of worship, also published a message to Facebook, asking its million-plus followers to “[p]lease join us in praying for everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey…”
The message added: “Texans are the best when it comes to helping each other! Let’s join together in giving a helping hand to our friends, neighbors and those in need.”
Although Lakewood Church has a history of providing shelter to those in need, the severe flooding has made the campus “inaccessible due to severe flooding,” according to another Facebook post.
In addition to hosting a benefit concert after 2016’s devastating floods, Lakewood Church sheltered about 5,000 displaced Texans when a 2001 tropical storm left Houston with more than 30 inches of rain.
Churches Gather Resources, Assist Displaced Texans
Lakewood was not the only local church forced to keep its doors closed over the weekend.
Instead of holding services as usual, some local churches, such as Revolution Church, were banding together to help gather much-needed resources for victims of the severe flooding caused by Harvey.
Even leaders at a church as far away as Tennessee, Cornerstone Church Nashville, encouraged congregants to donate however much they could to help raise $20,000-$30,000 for relief efforts. The church told a local news station that it would deliver the funds to Convoy of Hope.
“We have four tractor trailers that are full of food, water, emergency supplies, hygiene kits, flood buckets and things like that,” Convoy of Hope’s National Spokesperson Jeff Nene explained.
“We have a convoy of twelve trucks that are on their way to Corpus Christi right now,” he added.
The station reported that Convoy of Hope has “boots on the ground before, during and after disasters like Hurricane Harvey.”
NBC News caught up with Saint Andrews Church in Pleasanton, where displaced locals could find food, shelter and peace from Harvey’s wrath. Here is the network’s video report on how the church has been a saving grace for locals.
A preacher had also taken it upon himself to check cars submerged in flood waters for occupants, according to a tweet posted by a local news reporter.
— Sara Donchey (@SaraDonchey) August 27, 2017
How to Get Help and Help Those Affected by Harvey
Here is a look at the list of resources provided by Lakewood Church on its Facebook page:
- Traffic Conditions & Emergency Information – HoustonTranstar.org
- Evacuation routes – Texas Department of Transportation – http://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/division/traffic/safety/weather/hurricane.html
- National hurricane advisories – Alert Houston – Houstonemergency.org
- Shelters – RedCross.org/get-help
- Disaster Recovery Centers – Fema.gov/disaster-recovery-centers
- Emergency Operation Center – Houstonemergency.org/disaster-recovery
- 911 Police/Fire/Ambulance
- 311 to Report Storm Damage
- 211 United Way Helpline
- 866-526-8300 Houston Red Cross
- 800-985-5990 Disaster Distress Helpline
- 713-752-0677 Salvation Army Disaster Relief
USA Today lists the following nonprofits for those who want to donate:
- American Red Cross. To donate visit redcross.org, call 1- 800-RED CROSS or text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation
- The Salvation Army: To donate visit givesalvationarmy.org or call 1-800-725-2769
- Catholic Charities USA: Visit catholiccharitiesusa.org to donate
Photo by channing.wu