Methodist Leaders in Texas Lock Arms to Provide Wild Fire Relief
Southwest Texas Conference Hit Hardest
Gene Hileman, Disaster Response Coordinator, reports widespread damage to homes in the Bastrop region including an estimated 500 homes lost and another 500 with significant damage. The conference has deployed a CARE team to help with spiritual and emotional needs.
News from Don Clark, Lay Supply, Lilbert UMC:
The fire started around 7 p.m. and soon spread over 300 acres, evacuating 60 residences. TxDOT officials closed a stretch of FM 343 between County Road 1648 and the Cherokee County line.
Anyone interested in delivering food and water to firefighters can take it to the Lilbert United Methodist/Baptist church fellowship hall (west of Nacogdoches on FM 343 between Cushing and Douglas: 936-569-9701 or 936-326-4417).
Major fires in Teague and Centerville
Pastor Alan van Hooser reports that Teague itself is presently safe, but local firefighters are battling approximately 4,000 acres of brush fires that are semi contained. Alan spent the majority of Sunday night and early morning offering assistance to the Fire Department. In talking with a local EM representative, Pastor Joy Richards of Centerville has learned that a perimeter has been established at present to battle the fires within seven miles west of Centerville.
Rev. Joe Fort, West District Superintendent Reports:
“There are 2-3 fires within 10 miles, but to our knowledge at present there are no fires threatening our churches or members in our district. Our pastors are in the communication loop in the event of a greater emergency.”
Rev. Kevin Young, Linden UMC Reports:
“Approximately 15,000 acres have burned within the triangle between Linden, Jefferson, and Avinger. Fires continue to combust, with wind creating spontaneous fires and making them very difficult to predict or contain. Command centers set up in Linden, Avinger, and Jefferson are providing donated water, food, and other supplies to firefighters and evacuees; also shuttling requested supplies to firefighters at sites of fires. My best guess is fewer than 20 homes have been destroyed so far, but that information is difficult to verify at this point. I have heard of two reported deaths near Gladewater and one firefighter med-evac on Sunday. While the towns are under no immediate threats, fires are within three or four miles of most and currently spreading mostly south away from Linden and Avinger toward Jefferson. Most evacuees being absorbed by friends and families at this point, but Linden UMC will become an evacuee center if/when that becomes necessary. Local (mostly volunteer) fire departments are stretched, having been working round the clock since Sunday. DS Bill Taylor (North District) joined me in Linden today to tour fire lines. He has been in touch with conference and UMCOR, and reports immediate needs largely met, but we will continue to assess. If relief does not come soon, we may reach a point where we begin to exhaust local donations and supplies, and need more help when recovery begins.”
Anna Rhode reports in from the North District:
“There are fires all around us, but thankfully no churches have been lost. Our saddest news is that four of the members of Linden UMC have lost their homes.”
Additional updates will be posted to txcumc.org as information becomes available.