By David Rogers. April 20, 2016. GREENSBORO, NC — Even while Samaritan’s Purse was sending another team of relief workers to earthquake victims in Ecuador on Wednesday, the Boone-based international relief organization already had feet on the ground in flood-ravaged Houston, Texas parts of Louisiana.
COVER IMAGE: A recently refurbished DC-8 being loaded on Wednesday, bound for Ecuador. All photos and video courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse.
More than 15 inches of rain in a 24-hour span over the weekend caused major flash flooding and over-swollen rivers in a nine-county Houston area. The fourth largest city in the U.S., the Weather Channel reported on Wednesday that Houston’s death toll is now eight victims, while more than 1,000 buildings and homes were fully or partially under water — and the area is bracing for rain.
The Houston deaths resulted from a variety of circumstances:
- Two deaths in the downtown “loop” area, with both victims trapped in submerged vehicles
- A truck driver drove an 18-wheeler int floodwaters; it is unknown whether the victim drove into the waters intentionally or had a medical emergency
- A 56-year old man was found in a submerged vehicle after attempting to drive through floodwaters, northwest of Katy, a western suburb of Houston
- Coast Guard recovered a body from a capsized tugboat in the San Jacinto River on Tuesday, north of Baytown
- The body of a 42-year old woman was found in a car, near a drainage ditch
- Another unidentified body was found in a submerged vehicle just west of downtown Houston
Samaritan’s purse sent a program manager into the Houston area to take a closer look at the damage and crisis-trained, Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains are joining the relief teams to provide emotional and spiritual care.
“Texas has been hit hard,” Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham said. “For some, these floods swept away everything they had. We’ll be working with churches in the greater Houston area to come alongside hurting homeowners with a helping hand and the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Please keep those affected by these historic floods in your prayers.”
In March, Samaritan’s Purse responded to devastating floods in Orange, Texas, about 110 miles northeast of Houston. More than 335 volunteers have invested almost 7,500 hours throughout Orange County. A Samaritan’s Purse advisory obtained by Blowing Rock News reports, “We still have over 50 work orders to go in (the Orange area). All of this is on top of our ongoing work and ministry in West Monroe, Louisiana, which was pummeled by the same March storm system. Our successful and fruitful deployment in nearby Bossier City, Louisiana, has been completed.”
New Earthquakes In Ecuador
Samaritan’s Purse already has personnel on the ground and more staff and volunteers are on the way in Ecuador, where a 7.8-magnitude earthquake rocked the South American country’s northern coast on Saturday. According to a report from the Reuters news service, the death toll from Saturday’s earthquake is now as 480, with 107 still missing and more than 4,600 injured.
The tragic situation got even more complicated on Wednesday when two new, 6.2-magnitude earthquakes near the epicenter of Saturday’s larger quake struck the northern coast about nine miles below the earth’s surface.
“The earthquake in Ecuador has caused incredible death, injury, destruction and loss,” observed the Samaritan’s Purse president, Graham. “We’re responding as quickly as possible to help with emergency needs such as water, shelter, and medical care. We help in the name of Jesus Christ and want to show people His love.”
The Boone-based relief organization sent an emergency field hospital, along with medical staff to treat the suffering in Ecuador. A recently refurbished DC-8 cargo plane took off from Greensboro Wednesday morning, described as “…a workhorse vehicle that can carry 40 tons of emergency supplies and dozens of personnel, bringing relief to the traumatized survivors of the Ecuador earthquakes.”
The emergency field hospital is a mobile unit that will give Samaritan’s Purse a physical location to treat and help patients in need. It will have an emergency room with the capacity to see more than 100 people a day, an operating theatre with the ability to perform 7-10 surgeries daily, 20 inpatient beds, and an outpatient clinic with an adjunct lab, ultrasound imaging capabilities, and onsite pharmacy. Approximately 40 medical personnel will staff the field hospital each day.
In addition to helping relieve the overwhelming medical need, Samaritan’s Purse is also at work to bring clean water to 50,000 people and to meet the shelter needs for 5,000 households. We have already deployed a seven-person disaster assistance response team to join trained personnel already on location.