Disaster relief begins from Houston to Corpus

By Catholic News Service and Catholic Spirit Staff

Catholic dioceses and charities have come together to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey that hit the Texas coast Aug. 25. The storm dumped torrential rains and brought damaging winds to the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and to the dioceses of Victoria, Corpus Christi, Beaumont and Austin.
Catholic Charities USA, as well as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Disaster Services, immediately mobilized teams to help those affected by the hurricane. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also asked all dioceses to consider taking up a special collection to support victims of Hurricane Harvey and to provide pastoral and rebuilding support to impacted dioceses through Catholic Charities USA. 
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared the state a disaster area, which will allow federal money to help in reconstruction. 
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, on Aug. 27 urged “all people of goodwill to closely monitor future calls for assistance for victims and survivors in the days ahead.”
The cardinal is the head of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, one of the hardest-hit areas. Houston is the country’s fourth largest city with 6.6 million residents, many struggled seeking safety in flooded residential streets, which were expected to get up to 50 inches of rainfall by the time the rain stops sometime at the end of August.
“Numerous homes in these communities are currently without power. Several forecasts anticipate additional storm damage and flooding in the coming days, along with high winds and tornado activity,” Cardinal DiNardo said.
Bishop Wm. Michael Mulvey, of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, said he was grateful to the bishops who reached out to him and to his diocese. He said the extent of damage around the diocese is being assessed.
The Diocese of Austin is also assessing the flood damage in areas east of I-35, particularly along the Colorado River. 
In a statement, Austin Bishops Joe Vásquez and Daniel Garcia said they are “are deeply concerned about the parishes, communities and people that have been and will continue to be impacted by the storm.” 
They also urged all people to continue to follow the safety directives of the local emergency management officials.
“We encourage the faithful of the Diocese of Austin to be spiritually united with the communities affected through prayer and support,” the bishops said.
Catholic Charities of Central Texas (CCCTX)  is coordinating diocesan relief efforts to help those affected by the flooding in the Diocese of Austin, said Sara Ramirez, executive director of CCCTX.
She asked for prayers for all those affected by Harvey’s rampage, including the first responders and disaster teams headed to the Houston area.
“We know that families are going to need food, clothing and shelter. The most effective way we can help families is to raise funds and then empower families to feel some sort of normalcy again by being able to purchase their own food items, clothes, etc. In short, financial donations cut down on hidden costs and prevent delays in getting families exactly what they need to begin the recovery processes,” Ramirez said.
She also asked that parishes in the Austin Diocese keep CCCTX informed of parishioners’ needs. 
“With our service region covering 25 counties, we do not always know where the most pressing needs are,” Ramirez said. She encouraged parishes to contact Allison Cavazos at allison-cavazos@ccctx.org or to call the disaster number at (512) 766-7111.
To make an online donation to assist with disaster relief, visit the CCCTX website at www.ccctx.org.