JoLynn and I have some missionary friends home in Houston from Bolivia, just in time to be greeted by Hurricane Harvey. Here is their story…
Dear Friends, August 2017
Last Friday was the last normal day we had. Not exactly normal. School was canceled, and everyone raided the grocery stores and the gas stations. I managed to get the last thing on the bread aisle- a bag of hamburger buns that looked like they had been run over by a cart, but they were mine! That day we waited all day for the rain. And then it started. That night as we went to bed it was raining, and then the alerts started- one after the other- tornado alerts and flash flood alerts. Over and over again, my phone then Scot’s phone and then 15 minutes later my phone then his phone. We got no sleep and finally just turned our phones off to have some peace. We still didn’t sleep well though. What we didn’t realize was those alerts were warning us of immediate threats of tornadoes, and that we should have gotten in the closet. I just thought they meant there were some in the Houston area. I found out the next morning when people from all over the world started calling us, writing on face book and emailing us to see if we were okay. That’s when we found out a tornado hit 10 minutes away about 5 in the morning. I guess we should have paid attention to the alerts. Oh well!
We sat glued to the tv all day Saturday and Sunday. I can’t remember the last time I watched tv for 2 days straight. When we weren’t watching tv, we were watching the water rise and rise and rise. If we weren’t doing that we were texting, emailing and connecting with people on face book. “How are you?” “Any water in the house?” “Still have power?” Over and over again. It got so high here, we were really worried. And the rain just wouldn’t stop. The hurricane was long gone, but not its effects.
We couldn’t get out of our subdivision for two days. The water in the streets got up mid thigh. Some cars in our neighborhood flooded and a few houses, but not many. Why we were spared, I don’t know. It would rain, then drain off. We watched with horror as did the rest of the world the evacuations that were going on. Then we started seeing neighborhoods closer to us, and then started seeing on face book people we knew, and their parents, and their pets needing to be evacuated. Our side of town survived the flooding from the storm, but when they began to release water from the reservoir to prevent damage to it, utter destruction was unleashed. Our church, our mission’s chairman, and so many many of our friends and church family went under water. In a matter of hours the water was waist high with very little warning. And what’s so awful is that they will be underwater for another 1-2 weeks.
I was amazed at how the sites and sounds of the neighborhood have changed. Walking Buddy in the morning I no longer hear the cheerful sound of the school bus, and the laughter of happy children waiting to go to school, or the garbage collectors as they whistle and yell to each other. In its place we now hear military helicopters overhead, chain saws cutting up tree branches, and boat motors as they go up and down the flooded streets. The sites we see are just bazaar- fish in people’s front yards, dead deer on the freeway, convoys of national guard personnel and boats everywhere. Never in my life have I seen so many boats- motor boats, canoes, kayaks, inflatable rafts and air boats. It has become the new norm.
We have been able to help in several ways. Scot went to volunteer at a couple of shelters early on, but they didn’t need any more help those days. One day we went to help some friends get their furniture off the floor in case they flooded. The next day Erin and I went to a church to do clothing distribution. You can not imagine how many donations came in. Their entire children’s wing- left to right, top to bottom was covered in clothes. The national guard came to get them when we were there and we made human chains to pass the huge bags of clothes to the cars waiting to take them to shelters. Then I came home and made calls to help coordinate care for families that were affected by the flooding. Then I went with Austin to get his senior pictures taken. So random, but we had had that appointment for a while, but didn’t expect they were open. They called and told us to come on in if we wanted, so we did. Then that night there was a church meeting to plan for care for our church body. The next day Scot and Austin went to help friends from church move their furniture while I went on a demolition team to knock the sheet rock out of some houses. When I got to the subdivision I got all choked up. One after another, house after house, there was furniture, appliances, carpet all over the front yard. It was as if it was a giant garage sale, but everything was destroyed. All I did was sweep up sheet rock- for 4 hours. And that was just one house. And the teams were going from house to house to help people get their sheet rock knocked out so that they can dry out.
Today our family went to help a friend from church pull up their carpet. We had to park a ways away because of the flooding and she had to come and escort us in because the police are trying to prevent looting. We walked through over knee high water. This beautiful subdivision was just a lake. They had 3 inches of water in the house, but even with that little it was devastating. It was hard to see as this was the house that I went to every week this year for Bible Study. And the water was still all the way up their sidewalk not far from the front door. It was just surreal as I heard a noise and looked out the window to see two men in a boat floating by the house. I just wanted to scream- this is all so crazy! As we left there was a steady stream of people coming in on boats, carrying fans, dehumidifiers, huge boxes of pizza, packages of water and more.
Though we have lost nothing, so much has changed. Austin had one week of his senior year, and now two weeks are canceled. He was excited about being on the varsity football team, but now his first 3 games have been canceled. The national guard has taken over his high school, and so we have heard he will be transferred to another high school while they are there. I was so excited about being part of the MOPS ministry, but now our entire children’s wing is under water and so all is on hold. A Sunday school luncheon, a luncheon with a high school friend and a get together with a Bible study group- all canceled. Scot had worked so hard for months to network with pastors to share our ministry with them and had meetings scheduled with 3 different churches. All have been canceled!
We need your prayers! All of us need your prayers! Pray the water would go down, pray for safety, pray for wise decisions, pray for peace, pray for finances, pray for outreach. So many did not have flood insurance. If you want to help you can come to Houston and be part of a relief team through Bayou City Fellowship at bayoucityfellowship.com If you want to give, our church has a fund for hurricane victims and for their reconstruction. Go to bridgepointbible.org
The other day during my prayer time the second verse of “It is well with my soul” came to mind. “Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blest assurance control, that Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and hath shed his own blood for my soul.” I thought to myself right now we are being buffeted, we are going through trials, but we have the assurance that the Lord sees us, cares for us and has saved us. Really that’s the most important thing!
In His Love,
Robin for the Ullriches
7558 W. Thunderbird Rd. Ste. 1 PMB 449
Peoria, AZ. 85381