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Lititz, Pa. – A Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) assessment team will arrive in eastern Texas on Wednesday, August 30, to begin a 5-day exploration of need and eventual MDS response to Hurricane Harvey.

The team will begin its work in Austin, consulting with the Austin Mennonite Church then move on to the San Antonio Mennonite Church before visiting some of the most devastated areas further east.

The team expects to visit the area in and around Bastrop, Texas, where MDS has worked since 2011.  The community is anticipating more flooding as the Colorado River has already crested above flood stage with the possibility of it going higher.

Since 2013, Bastrop has been hammered with disaster after disaster, including floods, tornados and wildfires.  Earlier this year MDS ended its work in Bastrop cleaning up from the wildfires and floods. (To read more about MDS in Bastrop click here.)

“It appears we may return to Bastrop,” Kevin King, MDS executive director said.  King will be part of the assessment team along with MDS Region 3 board chair, Wayne Stuckey.  “This community has gone through just about every disaster you can imagine in the past few years and every time MDS has been there.”

“We are going to Texas to connect with our constituent churches, to explore how we can assist them to respond to the disaster in their communities and state, and to discover where MDS can best apply its resource of volunteers,” King said.

King said MDS comes in on the heels of the search and rescue work currently taking place with early response teams that do mucking out and clean-up work.  Once a house is cleaned and dried out and the owner has the resources to repair or rebuild, MDS will be bring in more volunteers to rebuild the homes and can be involved in communities for several years.

“The hope is to first activate the early response teams from nearby states before we consider a second phase of teams from further away,” King said. “Later when the flooding is off the front page we will still be there repairing and rebuilding homes.”

The assessment team is also planning to visit areas that may not be in the news at this point, often forgotten areas, that have just as much if not more devastation but no spotlight cast upon them. They expect to complete their work by Sunday, September 3.

MDS is accepting financial donations and is unable to accept material aid. MDS is also developing a waiting list for volunteers.  To learn more, go to mds.ngo or mds.mennonite.net.

Contact:  Mark Beach, MDS Communications Manager, 717-344-1891, mbeach@mds.mennonite.net

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