Lessons in Faith from Hurricane Harvey
By: Sherri Gragg
Leroy and Lynn McCarley suffered devastating flooding from Hurricane Harvey only to discover the hurricane also strengthened their faith.
Leroy and Lynn McCarley moved into their new home in 2001, two days before Tropical Allison hit. They were still there for the Memorial Day Flood of 2015 and the Tax Day Flood of 2016. Each time, they made it through largely unscathed.
So, when forecasters predicted Hurricane Harvey’s landfall in the Houston area, the McCarleys weren’t worried. “Around 4:30 that morning, when we woke up to get our boys to school, Leroy took the precaution of moving our extra vehicle up the street to higher ground. When he got back, he said the water wasn’t even up to Allison levels yet and that it would have to rise nine more inches to get in the house. An hour later, it was at the front porch,” Mrs. McCarley said.
At the water’s highest point, a neighbor who was 6 feet 2 inches tall stood in the center of the street. The water came up to his ear. Before Harvey was finished with the McCarley family, their home took on 22 inches of water. The destruction was catastrophic.
West University UMC to the Rescue
The following Monday, as the water receded, Mrs. McCarley stood in the midst of the chaos and wondered where to begin. She knew to take everything that was ruined to the curb, but beyond that, she found the devastation so overwhelming that she struggled to function.
Until her church, West University UMC, came to the rescue.
“Our church was a powerhouse. They came in and instantly began to muck and gut. Some of them had lived in New Orleans and knew what to do. Some of them ripped out walls. Others went through my kitchen. One member does construction. He would pull up into each member’s home that flooded and park his construction dumper. Once it was filled, he went on to the next one.”
Harvey and Faith
Recently, after almost a year-long construction process, the McCarleys moved back home. It has been a year of struggle and change. As Mrs. McCarthy reflects on how Harvey has impacted her lifelong faith she is initially at a loss for words. Then, one word finally rises to the surface- Growth.
“I think the most important thing would be that I just grew toward God and in the faith that he was in control.” she said. McCarthy also reflects on how the experience offered her the opportunity to grow in grace toward others. She realized that her loss was a unique opportunity to lead others to be positive in the middle of the hard days. “I knew it was a good time to encourage my neighbors,” she said.
A key component of her optimistic outlook was the chance Harvey gave her to grow in gratitude. She intentionally looked for the good in both God’s provision and the kindness and generosity of her fellow Houstonians. “When you are in need, it is important to say ‘thank you’ when those needs are met,” McCarthy said.
And finally, Hurricane Harvey encouraged her to grow in hope. “Things happen in life and you have that big wall in front of you,” she said, “It is not what you thought would happen or what you planned. You begin baby steps climbing up because you know God doesn’t want you to stay where you are. And then you say, ‘Okay, God. Let’s do this.’”