As tropical storm Harvey has been hitting regions of Texas and Louisiana with record-breaking amounts of rain, leaders and members of churches in the area -- and even outside of the state -- have rolled up their sleeves to provide shelter and services for evacuees.
The storm brought almost 52 inches of rain to Cedar Bayou as of Tuesday, breaking the continental U.S. record, according to the National Weather Service. Officials in Texas estimated that 30 people have been killed due to the storm.
In the wake of the storm, churches themselves have also been affected, and many have been forced to close its Sunday services. Though many have expressed desire to provide help, they are waiting on significant relief efforts until the "danger has passed" for their churches.
"We are following the guidance of our officials and hunkering down in order to remain safe while they focus on those in the most immediate danger," Andrew Doyle, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, told Christianity Today. "We want to emphasize that we need to wait until the danger has passed to make our response so as not to complicate further the ongoing rescue operations."
Churches that were located in higher elevation were able to act as temporary shelters or meeting points, such as Fallbrook Church, Windsor Village United Methodist Church, and CityView Church, among many others.
Non-profit organizations and church-affiliated agencies have also come to the aid of evacuees. The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) Disaster Relief units sent help in the form of chaplains, laundry and shower units, food, water treatments, and others.
Samaritan's Purse aid workers also arrived on the field and began gathering volunteers to provide additional help.
Members of the church community from outside of Texas also provided aid, such as the Southern Illinois Worship Center.
"We know that in a time like this, we are to come together to assist those that are in need," said Jason McKinnies, pastor of SIWC, on Facebook. "The most immediate needs are financial. Due to the horrific flooding, most churches are unable to hold their weekend services and they are in need of additional resources to respond to this crisis. If you are not already giving to a church or another organization directly for your part in the relief efforts, we have provided a place for you to give: https://siwcenter.securegive.com/SG/WebOnline/Home/Index."
Catholic churches in Charlotte, NC, will be collecting and sending donations to Texas, WBTV reported. And Church of the Highlands, the largest church in Alabama, will be sending teams with resources to help meet needs, according to ABC.
“We’ve been able to send resources and currently we are sending very small teams over to do some recon work with those churches, get on the ground there,” Church of the Highlands Pastor Layne Schranz told ABC.
“Everyone of us at Church of the Highlands feels the responsibility to pray, to give and to go,” Schranz added. “So we don’t want to sit back and feel we’ve done something because we said a prayer or we even gave money toward helping someone. We actually want to go.”