Helping Hands Lift Hurting Texas Town

September 7, 2017 • United States
Samaritan's Purse volunteers are busy at work in hard-hit Santa Fe, Texas. More help is needed for Hurricane Harvey cleanup.
Samaritan's Purse volunteers are busy at work in hard-hit Santa Fe, Texas. More help is needed for Hurricane Harvey cleanup.

Families in Santa Fe are grateful to Samaritan’s Purse volunteers for helping them move forward after Hurricane Harvey’s brutal thrashing.

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Sara Tallman stands in her hurricane-damaged home in Santa Fe, Texas. To the left, our volunteers are working.

Sara Tallman stands in her hurricane-damaged home in Santa Fe, Texas.

Floodwaters separated Sara Tallman from her children for three days. She was at work across town when she received word that her husband and three children had been rescued from their home by a family friend.

By the time the friend arrived, the three children were wading in chest deep water. Hurricane Harvey’s wrath had settled into Santa Fe, Texas, and within a few hours, the community was nearly under water.

Sara tried to get to her friend’s house to be with her family but flooded roads that looked more like rivers wouldn’t allow it.

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“I don’t think I’ve slept since then,” Sara said. “All I could do was dream I was drowning. Every time I closed my eyes I was drowning.”

A Mother’s Heartache

Hurricane Harvey dumped more than a foot of water into the Tallmans’ home. “There’s not a room in this house that hasn’t been touched by the water,” Sara said.

A volunteer sprays an anti-mold agent in Sara Tallman's home.

A volunteer sprays an anti-mold agent in Sara Tallman’s home.

Samaritan’s Purse volunteers helped mud-out the home by removing drywall, sheetrock, and waterlogged belongings.

“There are no words to explain how amazing they’ve been. We couldn’t go any further,” Sara said. “We were drained. At one point, we all mentally shut down.”

This is the second time in six months that the Tallman’s home has flooded. In April, a relentless thunderstorm brought heavy rains that also caused damage inside the home.

Sara especially worries about her 11-year-old daughter, Kara, who lost nearly all of her personal belongings in the flood. More traumatic than that, Kara has recently suffered through the death of her aunt and her grandfather—Sara’s dad—with whom she was close. Her grandfather was a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient who died of leukemia.

“There are no words to explain how amazing they’ve been.”

Sara with a Bible presented to her by Samaritan's Purse volunteers.

Sara with a Bible presented to her by Samaritan’s Purse volunteers.

“He died at home and she was with him. She refused to leave his side,” Sara said.

Sara and her family are now living with her mom, Debra, who lives nearby. Although Debra’s heart hurts to see family enduring such trials, she said she’s relieved and so thankful that everyone survived.

She’s also grateful to Samaritan’s Purse volunteers who came from across the country to help her loved ones.

“You’re putting peoples’ lives back together,” she said.

A Lifetime of Memories on the Lawn

Renee Carlisle tried not to cry as she looked out across her lawn and saw all the bedspreads. She was hopeful they would dry out and be salvageable, so they went on the “keep” side of the driveway.

A Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplain prays with Renee as Samaritan's Purse volunteers continue to clean up.

A Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplain prays with Renee as Samaritan’s Purse volunteers continue to clean up.

On the other side sat a much larger pile of personal belongings that were completely destroyed after Hurricane Harvey left two feet of water in the home where Renee has lived for 30 years.

“I’m sorry,” she said, apologizing for the sobs that consumed her. “This is all I have.”

Samaritan’s Purse volunteers sorted through belongings and removed damaged items and waterlogged dry wall from her home.

Renee and her husband are separated and Renee lives with a number of debilitating issues such as an injured back that needs surgery. She recently broke her neck and, due to vasculitis, had to have several fingers removed. Renee also suffers from respiratory problems.

“Sometimes I feel like God has forgotten me. I just feel lost,” she said.

Our volunteers and Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains prayed with Renee and encouraged her with the love of Jesus Christ.

“I’m so thankful you’re here,” she said.

A Son Comes to the Rescue

John Newton is pastor of First Baptist Church Alta Loma, our host church and base of operations in Santa Fe (Galveston County). A number of John’s church members had their homes flooded, as did John, who had to rip out carpet, flooring, and sheetrock.

John’s mother lives at La Vita Bella*, an assisted living facility that no one expected to flood. The building had never before flooded.

Pastor John is grateful for Samaritan's Purse presence in Santa Fe.

Pastor John Newton is grateful for Samaritan’s Purse presence in Santa Fe.

But within about one hour the water was so high that residents desperately needed to evacuate. John and a deacon in the church rescued his 99-year-old mother and several other residents by boat.

They arrived just in time.

“She was floating on the mattress in her bedroom,” John said. “I pushed her out on the mattress and onto the boat.”

Later the same day, while John was at a local hospital with his mother, he learned from a family member that his brother had just died. His brother was sick and had suffered a heart attack the week before.

Despite the trials and sorrow, John praises God. He’s thankful to Samaritan’s Purse for partnering with his church to demonstrate God’s love and to be a Gospel light in the community.

Please pray for families in Santa Fe and across southeastern Texas struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. We need many more volunteers, especially in Santa Fe, to come alongside hurting homeowners and to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Editor’s note: *A picture of this nursing home made national news. See CNN’s story.

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Hurricane Relief Samaritan's Purse
Hurricane Relief Samaritan's Purse responds to the urgent needs of families devastated by the wind, rain, and storm surge of catastrophic hurricanes. Whether in the United States or abroad, we come alongside hurting people to bring emergency relief and practical help in the Name of Jesus Christ.

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