ROWLETT: Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery (TBDR) mobilized 450 volunteers over the past two weekends to Rowlett and Garland in response to the tornadoes which rattled several North Texas communities Dec. 26.
Willing volunteers transported bricks, mangled furniture and tree limbs from the disaster zones to the street curbs, working a combined total of 1,100 man-hours.
In Rowlett, the city government requested TBDR organize a Volunteer Reception Center at First Baptist Church. Though TBDR traditionally steps in during the long-term recovery phase, they chose to accept the request to aid the city with immediate relief.
"We were approached by the City and Texas Baptist Men with a request to help manage the center, and we were happy to step in and assist in the immediate aftermath," explained David Scott, TBDR director. "People wanted to help, but there was no system in place to manage the volunteers, so we brought our team in to help the city coordinate the efforts."
Their efforts proved successful as volunteers poured into FBC Rowlett for a safety orientation and to receive job assignments.
Last Friday, college students from FBC Plano volunteered their time and were assigned to assist Cornelius Rodgers, a resident whose family was home the evening the tornadoes struck.
As Rodgers was overcome with gratitude for the assistance, he recalled events from the night of Dec. 26.
"We prayed and prayed and prayed, " Rodgers said, explaining he had blanketed himself over his wife and children in the bathtub just seconds before the twister struck their house. Fierce winds and a loud road surrounded the room as they prayed sternly.
When the piercing noise finally ceased, Rodgers lifted his head to survey the damage.
"I was in shock," he said. "In a thousand years, I never thought there would be a tornado in Rowlett. You just never think it will happen to you."
The devastation from the tornado exposed the outer wall of the children's bedrooms, tore off much of the roof, shattered his company vehicle's windshield and overturned the backyard play set.
"Our home is a total loss. It has to be demolished," Rodgers explained.
But before it could be demolished, much of the debris needed to be moved to the curb, a daunting task for one family. That is when FBC Plano volunteers came in to serve.
"It's a blessing," Rodgers said. "I have never seen anything like this. Many churches have been out here helping the community. It's a blessing that people will take the time out of their day to help someone in need."
TBDR seeks to be the hands and feet of Christ in the months and years following a disaster. They will continue evaluating recovery needs for all of the communities affected by the winter tornadoes in order to determine how they can mobilize volunteers to assist with long-term recovery efforts.
Last Friday, representatives of the North Dallas Bank of Texas delivered a $2500 gift to assist with recovery efforts, such as purchasing building materials. To contribute to such recovery efforts, click here.
To learn more about TBDR and to discover opportunities to serve, visit texasbaptists.org/disaster.