"Rainxiety" and Resilience


August 28, 2019

It has been two years since Harvey made landfall, but the storm was so traumatic and far-reaching that some people in Houston and surrounding areas still suffer from “rainxiety” – the fear that flooding like Harvey will happen again – every time the rain falls. As real as these fears are to residents, their resilience is every bit as persistent.

When Harvey was at its worst, one-third of Houston was underwater, and total damage following the storm was estimated at $125 billion.

For Kingwood UMC, Harvey meant more than 130 of their families were impacted, as were community schools and businesses. “It was chaotic,” Associate Pastor Chris Harrison said. “We knew people needed help, so we would send people out to those in need. There was no coordinated effort in our area to deal with a disaster, so along with other churches, we took the lead. We quickly applied for a TMF grant and started using those funds to support the work we knew we needed to do.”

Kingwood UMC stretched every dollar of that grant to serve their neighbors. In addition to sending people to muck out homes, the church opened a community-wide babysitting operation so parents could work on their homes and have a safe place for their children. The church provided food for people who needed a break, became the site for school classes while local schools were closed for repair, and offered microgrants to families who needed money to renovate. Those microgrants were available to anyone in the community and a local furniture store partnered with the church to match each microgrant, allowing families to buy needed furniture as well.

Post Harvey Trash

A year later, they relaunched their Harvey efforts after realizing some of their neighbors had never repaired their homes or were now moving back in or experiencing some other part of the restoration of their homes and lives. While many were moving forward others were paralyzed and the church knew they needed assistance. With “Hope Beyond Harvey” the church established a support group and they trained volunteers to check on their neighbors. Additionally, the “Helping Hands” team, a group of about ten men with carpentry and construction skills, went back to using their talents to make needed home repairs.

“The work continues to this day and the TMF grant allowed us to do what God had appointed us to do in our community after the storm,” Chris shared.

“We fully lived into the calling to be the Church and love as Christ loves, because TMF’s Grant Ministry directly empowered our church and we believe this grant will have an eternal impact. People experienced God’s love firsthand and saw the church at work.”While the TMF grant made an unmeasurable difference in the lives of Kingwood residents and most of the renovation work is done in their area, KUMC is not finished. To further the community’s resilience and the impact their church can have, KUMC is in the middle of efforts to develop a disaster response plan and establish a disaster response network amongst area churches and community resources. This network will benefit the entire community when the next crisis occurs.

TMF’s Grant Ministry agrees and is thankful to work with churches like Kingwood UMC that are committed to transforming their communities and scaling efforts that leverage their expertise. If you believe you are one of these leaders, please reach out to Jacki Lammert, jlammert@tmf-fdn.org, and learn more about TMF grants.