Hurricane Harvey hits Texas, communities respond

Two kayakers try to beat the current pushing them down an overflowing Brays Bayou from Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017. (Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP)

By Phoebe Suy | Staff Writer

Hurricane Harvey hit Texas Friday night and continues to leave behind historic levels of flooding and rainfall in several coastal towns, the nine-county metropolitan area of Houston and the Southeast Texas region.

Baylor offices and organizations are anticipating involvement in response to severe weather conditions. All updates will be posted on the Baylor “Response to Harvey” website as they become available.

President Livingstone issued this statement yesterday about the unfolding destruction: “ Our hearts are heavy at the devastation along the Texas coast and in Houston and southeast Texas from Hurricane Harvey. Our deepest prayers are with the families and communities who have experienced loss, and we pray that in the coming days they will be filled with hope, reassurance and restoration. We encourage our Baylor Family to stay safe and join together in prayer for God’s comfort, mercy and protection for those impacted by this devastating storm.”

Rockport senior Steven Merrell is collecting items to be donated to his hometown. Some requested items include clean clothing, shoes and socks, battery-operated fans, coolers, batteries and blankets.

“We have family and friends who’ve lost everything,” Merrell said. “We’re just trying to get as much as we can back to those people who don’t have anything.”

Merrell’s sister is a Rockport police officer and first responder who has been working nonstop since the hurricane hit. Merrell said the first night was hectic because the police couldn’t be riding around as the hurricane initially hit land. Instead, they stayed in the police department, even as the building began collapsing in areas and the ceiling began to cave in.

As first responders and law enforcement officers work to save lives and bring a degree of normalcy to the chaos following Hurricane Harvey, local volunteers are also gearing up.

Waco Police spokesman Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton reported a group of several off-duty Waco police officers, other law enforcement officers, retired officers, a retired Marine and a local reporter were on their way to the Conroe-Woodlands area to conduct house-to-house rescues.

The volunteer team left with five boats, two RV’s, and several four-wheel drive vehicles to assist individuals and families affected by Hurricane Harvey.

“These individuals are going into harm’s way on their own will, time, and expense to help out and save the lives of our fellow Texans,” Swanton wrote in a Facebook post.

While volunteering in this capacity may not be possible for each individual, Merrell said he believes donations are the absolute best way for the Baylor community to provide relief at the moment.

Organizations such as the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and Texas Baptist Men are three institutions recommended by Baylor to provide immediate financial assistance for Hurricane Harvey relief. Another fund seeking donations is the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund established by Houston mayor Sylvester Turner.

“I hope that even if it’s a small amount that we can at least help some,” Merrell said. “Donations, prayers and hands is all we’re really asking for.”

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