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Texas Baptist Men help flood victims

Texas Baptist Men help flood victims
Members of the Texas Baptist Men are based in La Vernia while helping residents in San Antonio cope with their flood-damaged homes following the May 25 storms that dumped heavy rainfall across South Central Texas. ¢ PASCALLE BIPPERT

Members of the Texas Baptist Men’s Association are “bunked” here in La Vernia while they serve areas of San Antonio damaged during the flooding which took place during and after the May 25 storms in the area.

Terry Henderson, “ top man” in the Baptist Men’s Association, works out of Dallas. He got the call that San Antonio needed help and dispatched a crew of nine men and one woman to come help those with damaged property. Terry had just returned from tornado-ravaged Shawnee, Okla. The First Baptist Church of La Vernia offered the crew a place to stay in their “green house” classrooms.

Members of the team staying in La Vernia are from Smiley, Aransas Pass, Sam Rayburn, East Texas, Portland, Uvalde, and Lamark. La Vernia First Baptist church members Ted Claus and his wife, Carol, are in charge of feeding the team while they are here for the next week.

“They are the most important members of our team,” said Bob Eaton, the “white hat” the man in charge of the teams and the superintendent for the flood crew. “They keep us fed and make sure we have the energy we need to battle the heat, mosquitoes, and physical demands of this job. They get up at 5 a.m. in order to feed us by 6:30 a.m. They pack sandwich fixings for our lunches and they serve us supper.”

Bob also is in charge of another team in north San Antonio. On Monday morning, two more teams arrived for him to supervise.

The man in the “blue hat” is the job foreman. “Yellow cap” team members are the workers. Each member of the teams wears a yellow shirt sporting a Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief logo. In addition to Bob, Ted, and Carol, the La Vernia team includes Earl Bishop, Dianne Sims, Harris “Butch” Martin, Virgil Wilson, Ralph Bennett, Hoyle Chandler, and Raymond Cleveland. La Vernia First Baptist church members Ike Blakely and Jimmy Conger also wear the yellow shirts of the Texas Baptist Men and are working members of the team.

The crew has a laundry and shower trailer that houses four washers and dryers to clean the dirty clothes they’ve worn while tearing out waterlogged walls and floors. There are also showers for the crew to clean off the dirt, mud, and grime they’ve crawled through all day. Dianne, from Aransas Pass, is the chief communications person. She is outfitted with a table and computer to produce reports and communicate with the organization and the public.

Crewmembers currently are working in the Mission Espada area and Barbara Drive in San Antonio. The city of San Antonio provides the organization with lists of houses damaged during the torrential rains and flooding, but the teams also have walked door-to-door to ask residents if they have water damage.

Their main goal is to remove all waterlogged sheetrock, floors, and insulation, so mold will not start growing. Then the team paints or treats the areas with “ShockWave” a treatment to kill the potential of mold and bacteria in the water-damaged buildings. Residents are asked to wait two weeks before they start rebuilding. Electricity is shut off while the workers tear out walls. A licensed electrician then makes sure it is safe to turn the electricity on again. Chain saw crews are dispatched to take care of fallen trees and branches on roofs.

“We do this as servants of the Lord,” Dianne said. “We do this to help them. To show them God is love. That’s why we do it for free.”

Some members of the team are retired. Virgil Wilson is nearing 80 on his next birthday. Other members save enough vacation to be able to serve in this ministry when disaster strikes. Dianne and Bob went to New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy. They’ve also been to McAllen for flooding, “mud out” or “clean out” duty; and to Minot, N.D., Shawnee, Okla., and West and Granbury, Texas, to help.

When disaster strikes and they are called, they go.

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