Early Response Teams from Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) are heading to Texas with a focus on repairing broken pipes and water lines so residents hard-hit by the recent deadly ice storm can make their first step toward recovery.
The storm sent some 29 million people into a state of crisis and, though power is back on for many, burst pipes have flooded thousands of homes and water shortages are still dire.
MDS is responding as part of a coordinated effort with its partners in National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, with local long-term recovery groups, and with local churches.
Early Response Teams are the first phase of what will likely become a more expanded long-term response in Texas, explains MDS executive director Kevin King.
“We are currently recruiting volunteers who are experienced in plumbing repairs,” he says. “Our early response is finely focused because we have been able to determine where the greatest needs are on the ground at this time.”
Volunteers will be working in the Texas Gulf Coast counties of Victoria, Nueces, Hidalgo and Aransas, as well as in Bastrop County. They will also help residents in the San Antonio and Houston areas.
MDS is working to secure bulk plumbing supplies; volunteers are asked to bring their own tools and personal protective equipment so they are ready to work while observing MDS’s COVID-19 safety protocols.
“We will not be repairing drywall, flooring, walls or other damages at this point,” says King. “Our sole focus will be on restoring the integrity of the water supply lines in the homes.”
Weeks from now, when the emergency phase of this disaster has passed, needs in these communities will transition into long-term recovery. For that, MDS will need volunteers and donations months down the road, King says.
“MDS is still responding to needs in Texas related to Hurricane Harvey, which struck in 2017,” he says. “Please pray for those in dire circumstances from this winter storm, as well as those who are still facing pain and trauma left by other disasters.”
Interested volunteers from the U.S. should contact Deanna Frey at 1-800-241-8111 or by registering on the MDS website at https://mds.volunteermatrix.com/sys-php/matrix/e.php?ID=82. Canadians, unfortunately, can still not volunteer due to border restrictions.
To make a monetary donation, visit mds.mennonite.net, and click on “donate.” Select 2021 Texas Freeze from the pull-down menu. Checks, payable to Mennonite Disaster Service, can be sent to 583 Airport Road, Lititz, PA 17543. Please include “2021 Texas Freeze” on the memo line.