With Hurricane Harvey downgraded to a tropical storm, Buckner International and its ministries to children, families and senior adults continue to be affected by large amounts of rainfall in Houston and Beaumont. Buckner President and CEO Albert Reyes said most of the ministry’s operational sites sustained “light damage” from rain, but many clients and staff were still dealing with flooded homes.
He also announced that Buckner has initiated relief efforts to help storm victims both in Southeast Texas and those who have evacuated to North Texas and called for aid from supporters to help those efforts.
“We’ve identified a few distinct ways we can best shine hope to affected families,” he said, “and we need Buckner supporters to partner with us to help these families.”
Among those efforts are:
- A hygiene and personal aid collection. Buckner has initiated a collection for personal and hygiene items for victims through the Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid. Jackie Belt, director of domestic aid and assistance for Buckner, said his team is collecting several items to help families and asked for immediate donations to be sent to the Buckner Center. For more information on donating to the collection, see related story here.
- Distribution of shoes collected through South Main Baptist Church and Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls.® Reyes said the organization “will be donating 10,000 pairs of shoes collected in partnership with South Main in Houston directly to Houston families. We feel this is absolutely the best use for these shoes.” To give shoes, visit Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls here.
- Collection of cash donations at buckner.org. Reyes said this is often the best way to respond to relief needs, “because it gives us the flexibility to meet needs as they develop.”
- Provision of nursing beds and other accommodations at Buckner Parkway Place senior living community. “We have several available beds in skilled nursing,” Reyes said, “and I am making these available for senior adults in need of skilled nursing immediately. We are communicating with the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services to let them know of that availability.” Additionally, he said Parkway Place is considering options to make other living spaces available to victims, subject to availability.
Reyes also said reports on the safety of clients, staff and ministry sites were still preliminary.
“It appears those served by – or serving through – Buckner are relatively safe. We are grieving with several staff members and families in Houston or Beaumont who have experienced flooding or loss of homes, but rejoice that everyone is safe.”
He said Buckner leaders were bracing for additional flooding in Beaumont and plans were being made to protect residents of Buckner Calder Woods senior living community should the community be threatened by flooding.
Ben Mazzara, executive director of Calder Woods, said, “We have solid contingency plans to keep residents safe. Right now, everyone is safe, staff is staying on site, some with their families, in order to provide service to our residents.”
Additionally, some foster families in Beaumont and Houston voluntarily evacuated and are keeping in touch with their Buckner contacts.
Buckner will continue to post updates about relief efforts and the status of its ministries at buckner.org.