Harvey victims turn into volunteers

Journey from Harvey victim to volunteer

Neighborhoods near the Buffalo Bayou are still under water a week after Harvey hit. Some areas have up to 4 to 5 feet of water and in the Briarforest residents are still trying to salvage what they can in their homes.

Residents in the area have been told to stay out of the water because there is a serious concern of sewage surfacing and mixing with flood water. Volunteers who attempted to help residents in that area were told to wait until the water has fully receded.

"This [the homes] will be recovered but there's others that are going through a lot difficult time and I want to think of them," said Pastor Pablo Monroy.

Monroy is a pastor with Second Baptist Church in Houston. He has been instrumental in mobilizing very quickly to help thousands of residents affected by Harvey.

"We think the haves are going to be ok. It's the have-nots...so that's where we start," said Head Pastor Ed Young.

Labor Day marked the fourth straight day of a massive mobilization effort. As donated items are transported to the church, those items are later packaged and sent with teams that are equipped to clear out homes. Volunteers numbering in the thousands meet in the mornings and afternoons.Teams are shown videos on how to efficiently clear out a home, for example, one video focuses on removing dry wall.

Some of the volunteers on hand are dealing with their own struggles. Pastor Monroy had to move out his family of six just before flood waters claimed their home.

WFAA joined him as he returned to his home near Buffalo Bayou. Once we arrived we were met with residents controlling access into the neighborhood. They asked for proof of residence. Their hope is that this will keep looters from getting into the many abandoned homes.

"This is as close as I've been in one week," he said.

Monroy could only go so far into his neighborhood because of high water. We got as close as two streets down from his place. It is very evident that this his place may be under water for several days to come. Most of the homes along the bayou in the neighborhood are middle class to upper-middle class homes.

"This will be recovered but there's others that are going through a lot difficult time and I want to think of them," the emotional pastor said.

Monroy is one of many volunteers who have lost so much and yet are first in line to volunteer. Pastor Ed Young says those volunteers may actually be in the best position to help.

"One beggar telling another beggar where to get bread is a powerful thing," said Young.

That kind of power can yield great results and it has. Pastor Young says as of Monday morning volunteers have cleared out 760 homes and have received 2,800 requests for help online.

Pastor Young says by the week's end, the church and its volunteers will have helped clear 8,000 homes dealing with high water.

"We're called to love and that's all we have. We literally have nothing....but love," said Monroy.

The church has asked people who are willing to help to visit the website Second.org. Representative with the church say there are many ways people can help but the real need now is for volunteers.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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