Austin Disaster Relief Network organizers are looking for volunteers for major cleanup days in the east Texas coastal city of Port Arthur, where as many as 1,000 homes are still in need of repairs after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.
Area churches in Cedar Park, Leander and Lago Vista within the network are helping provide aid, but there’s been less response from volunteers than expected, said Don Wettlaufer, Northwest Austin sector leader for ADRN.
“We have need for many, but few have responded,” said Associate Director Stephen Brewer. “We need 1,000 people over three weekends. Every one life can help.”
Before the storm, the city had a population north of 55,000 people. Eighty-five percent of their homes were affected by Harvey.
The first cleanup trip took place over the Dec. 1 weekend, where 30 people helped tear out sheetrock from walls, shoveled debris into wheelbarrows to the curb and carried out damaged furniture, Wettlaufer said.
“In one house, no one had been in there since the hurricane,” he said. “There was six feet of water inside and everything was everywhere. There was still a hole where rescuers cut through the roof to rescue the person who lived there. The house was totaled.”
ADRN is working with Operation Blessing International, who was designated by the Mayor of Port Arthur to provide leadership for the cleanup efforts in Port Arthur. ADRN is asking the citizens of greater Austin to join the efforts by signing up, telling friends, family and co-workers for the following weekends:
For those unable to make the trip, there are opportunities such as the Dec. 8 Holiday Giving Drive, ADRN.org/holidaygiving and collecting things that look different from the typical donations, such as crock pots, which can go a long way for making meals when appliances need to be replaced. Donations will be accepted from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will benefit Harvey survivors in Port Arthur.
“I believe what greater Austin Churches and Port Arthur churches are doing together is nothing short of miraculous,” said Daniel Geraci, Executive Director for ADRN. “What Hurricane Harvey has done to the Port Arthur area is far too big and extensive for even one community to handle. It will take a city like Austin to help another city like Port Arthur to see the city restored.”
For more information and to register for one or more cleanup dates, visit www.adrn.org/cleanup