When disaster hits home


WIMBERLEY - As Bobby Catt and his family were on vacation in his hometown of Wimberley over Memorial Day weekend, the flood waters rose and the small stream of the Blanco River swept homes off foundations and left many stranded.

Catt, who serves as a youth minister at First Baptist Church of San Angelo, knew as he assessed the damage on Monday morning he wanted to return as soon as possible to help his friends and former neighbors recover.

Nine days later, Catt and three members from his home church traveled to Wimberley to begin work. Their project was helping mud out the home of Catt's longtime friends and recover belongings that could be salvaged.

"I've served on disaster recovery trips around the world - in Austin, Colorado and Peru," Catt said. "When the biggest flood in state history happened in my hometown, I needed to be there."

Rather than work for several months to organize a team and raise funds, this trip came together in a matter of days and involved friends who were able to head South quickly.

As the group began clean-out on Wednesday morning, the kitchen still had standing water and the refrigerator contained contents from a grocery store visit before the flood. Plates and bowls were still loaded in the dishwasher with only a hint of mud. One item Catt identified quickly was his football teammate's letterman jacket from their days in high school.

Seeing his hometown suffer such devastation was difficult for Catt, but he also saw the opportunities to serve his friends and live out the Gospel.

"I believe that when there are needs God wants us to respond," Catt said. "For me it's a chance to show God's love to people I've known for a long time."

Catt was encouraged as he has watched his town band together to recover from flood damage. Many local restaurants served free meals to residents and bed-and-breakfasts were housing displaced residents at no cost.

Several other members from FBC San Angelo also responded to the call for help in Central, including Arlen White, who served as TBM yellow cap for the feeding unit housed at First Baptist Church San Marcos. The group prepared 1,500 meals a day, many of which were delivered around the city to volunteers and homeowners working on clean up projects.

Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery is coordinating many volunteer efforts in the surrounding area. On Friday, June 5, volunteers from First Baptist Church Marble Falls headed to the area and stayed with partnering First Baptist Church Dripping Springs to help in clean-up efforts.

Many homes still have standing water and debris that needs to be removed. With more than 500 homes in the area impacted by flooding, clean-up and rebuilding, projects will last long into the summer and fall, according to Marla Bearden, disaster recovery specialist.

Texas Baptist churches are encouraged to bring volunteer groups of up to 40 people in June, July or August to help with clean-up and construction projects. Volunteers must be 16 years or older. For more information, click here. To give to Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery, click here.

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