Eighty-five percent of the residents in Port Arthur, Texas, were left with severe damage to their homes after Hurricane Harvey.


Eighty-five percent of the residents in Port Arthur, Texas, were left with severe damage to their homes after Hurricane Harvey.

Kit’s* home was flooded with four feet of water, and water came up through the floor boards in Ella’s home. (Click here to learn more about Ella.)

World Renew DRS volunteers are helping Kit, Ella, and other residents in Port Arthur clean-out their flooded homes by tearing out flooring and drywall, and removing waterlogged cabinets and furniture. Everything they remove must be pulled out to the curb to be picked up and hauled away.

Ella in red, with World Renew volunteers who helped clean out her home.

Once in Port Arthur DRS volunteers reflected that, although they saw the damage on TV, they “did not think there would be that much damage.”

“More than 322,000 homes across 39 counties were damaged or destroyed,” said Mark and Carol Martin, World Renew DRS regional managers. “Officials from the State of Texas are trying to figure out how to get the 75,000 residents who are still living in motels or shelters back into their homes. The problem is that their homes are badly damaged. “As time goes on, a process is emerging that will get the affected homes into safe and sanitary condition,” the Martins said.

A hurricane survivor’s possessions sit at the curb. World Renew DRS volunteers helped the
residents of this home with the difficult task of discarding their waterlogged belongings.


75,000 Texans are still
living in motels or
shelters because their
homes are unlivable.

“A process is emerging that will get the affected homes into safe and sanitary conditions so people can move back in,” the Martins said. “This includes getting water damage taken care of, making the houses watertight, and making sure that water, electricity, and HVAC services are in working order. Volunteer labor will be needed to make this program work, and we are looking into how, when, and where DRS can be a part of these efforts.”

The Martins, who were first in Texas in September, are back again in October. The scope of the damage is so vast that DRS has assigned two regional managers to the Harvey response. Martins, along with Regional Managers Len and Carrie Blauwkamp, are contacting and meeting with as many community recovery groups as they can, offering World Renew services such as needs assessments and home repairs, meeting with FEMA representatives, and assisting communities as they developed their long-term recovery plans.

The regional managers will connect also with churches affected by Harvey to see what needs they’ve identified in their own communities and offer World Renew’s support as they care for their neighbors.

Interested in volunteering in Texas? Click here.



Panoramic view of appliance deposit site in Marathon, Florida, for appliances damaged by Hurricane Irma.
As of the date of this photograph, the site had received approximately 3,000 appliances and continues to
receive 300 daily. Photo by J.T. Blatty / FEMA on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017

“We are on the way to west coast of Florida to meet with communities that have been impacted by Hurricane Irma,” said Rich and Pat Grasman, regional managers for World Renew DRS. “While there are many vacation homes on the coast of Florida, there are also many locals who live and work there whose homes were damaged or destroyed.”

“Pockets of Florida were hit hard by Hurricane Irma,” said DRS Regional Managers Eric and Nancy Johnson. “We need to figure out which communities need help, and the best way to do that is to make in-person visits. Both we and the Grasmans will seek out and meet with local recovery groups to offer World Renew services as well as advice on next steps based on decades of experience.”

The scope of the damage is so widespread in Florida that DRS has also assigned two regional managers to the Irma response.


HURRICANE MARIA – Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Florida, Puerto Rico, October 1, 2017 – A Florida municipal employee cleans debris from the sewage system.
Many areas in Florida municipality are still flooded due to debris blocking the sewage system after
Hurricane Maria. Photo credit Eliud Echevarria-FEMA.

“The Bible speaks of “one body, many parts,” (1 Cor. 12:12) referring to those who believe in the Lord,” said World Renew DRS Director Bob Laarman. “I can’t help but see disaster response in the same way. There are so many different needs after a major disaster hits: search and rescue, shelter, food, water, clothing, assessment, clearing debris, long-term planning, funding, spiritual and emotional care, infrastructure repair, home repairs, and more. There are many well-respected response organizations that work together in a hurricane’s aftermath. We each fill a variety of important roles in the days, weeks, months, and years after a disaster.”

Puerto Rico, 9-30-17, aerial view shows homes that were left roofless due to
the strong winds brought by Hurricane Maria. Photo credit Yuisa Rios-FEMA

The destruction left after Irma and Maria on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will take many years and different phases to address. Right now, specialized organizations that are skilled in mass care operations are working hard to get emergency resources to those who need food and water. World Renew DRS is known and respected for its specialization in long-term recovery, which includes needs assessments and home repairs. These are the services World Renew DRS is offering to federal and local officials in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Urban Search and Rescue teams check on mountain communities in Puerto Rico. As of Sept. 28,
these teams have covered 90 percent of Puerto Rico. Courtesy Photo-FEMA. Once covered with
lush, green leaves, trees along mountainsides are left bare after Hurricane Maria’s winds.

“We are in this for the long haul,” said Laarman.

We are thankful that the dam, for which we called a prayer alert, is still holding. It is still being watched carefully, and those living near the dam have been evacuated.



Your donations to World Renew’s response to hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria will go toward the long-term recovery of the individuals, families, and communities that were affected most.

Your donation to World Renew not only provides tangible assistance like home repairs but also provides long-term recovery and other expertise to community leaders. World Renew is not the first on the scene, but often the last to leave.

Every service World Renew provides is carried out by volunteers (known as Green Shirts) who serve disaster survivors with the love and hope of Christ.


There is an opportunity to volunteer in Houston, Texas. Click here to learn more.

To learn more about the services that World Renew DRS is offering after hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, see worldrenew.net/aboutdrs.


IMAGE ABOVE: Property roof collapsed in a neighborhood devastated by Hurricane Irma in Ramrod Key, Florida. Photo by J.T. Blatty / FEMA