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Lititz, Pa. — The Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) assessment team moved deeper into the devastating footprint of Hurricane Harvey today as they visited the town of Bloomington, Texas, southwest of Houston in Victoria County.

The impact of Harvey suddenly became more intense for the team as the damage was evident “block after block” in the town according to Kevin King, MDS executive director who is leading the assessment team. “There is hardly anyone here right now, but of those who are, some are sleeping outside on sofas under tarps.”

According to county emergency operations officials there are between 500 and 600 homes damaged and in need of everything from stringing tarps across the roofs to removal of debris and gutting the homes.

Already an economically stressed community, Bloomington and Victoria County took the full force of Harvey’s wind as it moved north towards Houston earlier this week where it dump trillions of gallons of rain water causing catastrophic flooding.

“There is plenty of need in this community,” Danny Garcia, county commissioner for Victoria County told the assessment team during a meeting at the county’s emergency operations center.

Garcia described how the west side of the community was poor and he was concerned they might get lost in the shuffle as disaster response groups gear up to begin the mammoth task of cleaning up after Harvey.

“I’m here because this is where my heart is at,” Victoria County volunteer coordinator, Linda May, said. “For the people that can’t help themselves, I just want to give them hope.”

Victoria County emergency operations officials meet with the MDS assessment team on Thursday, Aug. 31. Left to right are, Wayne Stucky, MDS Region 3 board chair, Kevin King, MDS executive director, Danny Garcia, Victoria County commissioner, Linda May, Victoria County volunteer coordinator, and Carl Dube, MDS volunteer project coordinator.

Hope might be in short supply for the moment as the enormity of the situation reveals itself in the Bloomington and the region at large. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated in the region and continue to wait to return to their homes, schools, jobs and communities.

The Victoria county officials have now asked MDS to begin assisting them with the cleanup in Bloomington.

“We’re ordering in teams,” King said.  “The number one priority is tarping roofs to protect the homes from more damage. The wind damage was tremendous.”

“Second will be cleanup of debris around the houses for sanitary reasons,” he said. King said once the debris is curbside Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) contractors will collect and dispose of the debris.

“Third, we will start gutting houses, there is a lot of mucking out to do,” he said.

King said MDS cleanup crews arrive in Bloomington as early as Saturday and no later than the first of next week. Saturday volunteers from Nebraska will already arrive bringing a track loader and mini-excavator for picking up debris.

King figures the cleanup effort could take 2-3 weeks or more.

To help MDS finance the volunteer emergency response teams and/or to volunteer visit the MDS website.

Hurricane Harvey damage and families living outside until their homes are repaired in Bloomington, Texas.


MDS photos by Nate Schlabach

Media Contact: Mark Beach, MDS Communications Manager

717-344-1891, mbeach@mds.mennonite.net

For donations and to volunteer call 800-241-8111

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