Harvey flood waters inundated the homes of one in five families at Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church.
Katy Carpman, the director of religious education at Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church in Houston, Texas, hasn’t lived in her home since August 29, when Hurricane Harvey fallout brought 10 inches of rain inside and did extensive damage to the house. Carpman told UU World that 20 percent of the congregation’s members’ residences flooded, and that church staff have provided support groups and other assistance. Some, but not all, members had flood insurance. Carpman described her family’s experience as “some trauma, but not a tragedy . . . my story is just one story.” Carpman and her family expect to be back home at the end of February.
Stephen Lipp—an Emerson member who relocated to Katy, Texas, with his spouse after their New Orleans home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005—was also hit hard by damage to his home during Harvey. He told UU World it took him a year after Katrina to find the courage to attend Emerson, but he has found there “a ‘can do’ spirit” in response to the storm.
“When you have a faith community willing to reach out and help, it makes you proud to be a part of the church,” Lipp said.
The Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund, set up by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the UU Service Committee on August 29, has raised $485,000 to date, according to the Rev. Dawn Cooley of the UUA’s Southern Region staff. The two organizations have awarded a combined $276,000 in grants to UU congregations and UUSC partner organizations serving at-risk populations in Texas.
For previous coverage of Hurrican Harvey visit uuworld.org/hashtag/hurricane-harvey.
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Kenny Wiley is a Denver-based UU World senior editor and program director for congregational engagement at the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado. His writing has also appeared in the Boston Globe, the Houston Chronicle, and Skyd Magazine.
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