Flood Recovery Story Sends Message of Inspiration

Date Posted: 6/23/2016

UMCOR joined forces with Race2Rebuild Texas and other partners to bless two of Houston’s flood survivors with the help of the Texas Annual Conference Mission Depot staff.
Mrs. Whitfield is a very gracious 81-year-old widow, on a fixed income. Her only wish at this point in her life is to spend her remaining days in the home that her husband built, room by room. However the floodwaters that have repeatedly ravaged Texas over the last year have interrupted that dream in a muddy and heart-wrenching way.
Carol Greenslate, Director of Disaster Ministries for the Texas Annual Conference and Case Manager Pyppa Johnson are likely considered heroes in Whitfield’s mind, for walking her through the rebuilding process.  However, Carol and Pyppa consider Mrs. Whitfield and another flood survivor named Ms. Travis to be champions in their own right -- for conquering this trauma with attitudes of determination and appreciation.
After experiencing devastating loss, these ladies have been blessed beyond their wildest expectations through a powerful partnership between TAC, UMCOR, Race2Rebuild, Houston Habitat for Humanity and several other organizations focused on helping those in the most desperate need. According to Carol, Disaster Ministries of the TAC received the clients’ case files after they registered through a disaster center following the May/October 2015 floods. “I cannot think of two more deserving individuals who are only in need of a hand up, not a hand out,” says Pyppa, referring to the management of these cases. “Both of these women are very proud, but were reduced to tears after our initial meetings. As a first step, we did the vetting and established a rapport with them and submitted a description of their needs to UMCOR.”
UMCOR’s Critical Role
UMCOR brought an array of impactful partnership resources to the rescue. 
Notes Carol, “UMCOR provides the grants that help in paying for the personnel, to assist in navigating the process of recovery, as well as, the much needed funds to pay for items such as repair material and other practical items to complete the recovery plan of our neighbors.” UMCOR also provides the training of the personnel and provides ongoing support to the team with best practices and shares experience so that the disaster office can be successfully in assisting the residents. Adds Carol, “They empower us to empower others.”
The touching story of Ms. Travis is depicted in this video describing the partnership’s story of flood response. “While she is disabled, she has always taken care of herself,” adds Pyppa. “In spite of chronic pain in her joints, she managed to pull the carpet from the floors after the floods. She has grown up in the house that belonged to her parents, and is determined to stay in the family's home until the end of her days. She has done the best she could with a fixed income along with her disability. The Texas Annual Conference Disaster Ministries wanted to help restore the dignity of Ms. Travis and Mrs. Whitfield, and their quality of life.” 
The Connection At its Best
As the Disaster Ministries Case Manager, Pyppa selected the homes from her list of flooded clients that would fit the profile of logistics and level of repairs that the and partnership volunteers could do. The remainder of the repairs was then handled by the local Houston Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together Houston, Youth Build, and volunteers from St. Peter's UMC in Katy. Adds Carol, “Houston Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together Houston are the construction non-profits that are part of our collaboration with the Greater Houston Storm Recovery Network.”
“As we diligently work to restore the homes of our clients,” explains Pyppa,
“we want the readers to know that people are still in need of help with repairs from the May/October 2015 floods and now we have added additional urgency with the 2016 floods.  The aftermath of all this water has forced hundreds of people to live in damaged homes because they have no where else to go.”
To donate to the ongoing recovery or help as a volunteer contact the Mission Depot Executive Director, Scott Moore at: smoore@txcumc.org.