Can you imagine living in your home with a leaky roof, no running water, and holes in the flooring for years?

This is almost unimaginable for most of us, but for people living in Rio Grande Valley, Texas, it was their reality. There were not one — or two — but three major floods in the Rio Grande Valley in May and October 2015, and again in June 2018.

Many people in the community lived below the poverty line, so when the flood hit the same families who were already struggling each day to make ends meet, many wondered where to start and how to find the money.

“In the midst of this disaster, we found the people of “the valley” to be some of the happiest homeowners we have worked with,” said Joel and Angie Ploegstra. “They were overjoyed, often with tears, to have us working on their homes.”

The Ploegstras were the volunteer project managers for the World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS) home reconstruction work in Rio Grande Valley.

                                                                             Joel and Angie Ploegstra

When the first flood hit, World Renew DRS began connecting with local leaders in the valley to find out how, when, and where to help. They developed a relationship with the local flood-recovery organization, Faith Community Disaster Recovery (FCDR).

World Renew DRS made a commitment to help the people of the Rio Grande Valley and FCDR for the long term. They not only conducted a needs assessment there, but the first three-week team of volunteers began home repair work in September 2016.

“FCDR workers, especially Susan and Roland, made every effort to make our presence in the valley effective. The First United Methodist Church of Weslaco welcomed us, allowing us to convert some classrooms into housing for our volunteers as well as encouraging us each week that our teams were there,” said the Ploegstras.

Watch this video to learn more and see volunteers at work:

World Renew DRS’s home repair work in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas, concluded in February 2019, after 22 teams made up of 359 volunteers gave 45,000 hours of their time to repair or rebuild 73 homes.

Learn more about the work done in Rio Grande Valley in the following stories:


Timeline of Events

  • May and October 2015: Severe flooding hits Rio Grande Valley, Texas. World Renew DRS builds a relationship with the local recovery group, Faith Community Disaster Recovery (FCDR).
  • January 2016: World Renew DRS conducts an unmet needs assessment to support FCDR, identifying nearly 240 families or individuals who still needed help.
  • February to August 2016: World Renew DRS project managers worked with FCDR on plans for a long-term reconstruction site. Housing for volunteers was secured at First United Methodist Church.
  • June 2018: Major flooding occurs again.
  • September to February 2019: World Renew DRS volunteers travel from across Canada and the United States to repair homes, suspending work in December and during the hot summer months.