By Catholic News Service
AUSTIN — The Diocese of Austin said it would work through Catholic Charities of Central Texas to provide long-term flood relief assistance to those affected by daily downpours in the flood-stricken areas of the diocese.
Two weeks of steady rain in central and northern Texas have resulted in 11 known deaths.
“We are dedicated to providing help and creating hope for the many families in central Texas affected by the flooding,” Cynthia Colbert, executive director of Catholic Charities, said in a June 27 statement.
“We’ll be working to coordinate assistance to the poor and most vulnerable residents, such as those without insurance, those who cannot access community services, the elderly and the disabled,” she said.
For the short term, monetary donations were being collected, as well as donations of gift cards to Target, Wal-Mart and H-E-B grocery stores; no donations of furniture, clothes or household items were being requested.
Catholic Charities’ long-term recovery support services may include emergency financial assistance for temporary housing, transportation expenses, storage expenses, crisis counseling and case management services.
The flood-swollen Brazos River reached 2 feet over flood stage late June 28, resulting in the evacuation of 2,000 residents. The water receded by 1 foot overnight, but was expected to rise again if a floodgate was opened nearby to relieve pressure on a dam.
Marble Falls, in the Austin Diocese, recorded 19 inches of rainfall over six hours June 27; scattered or isolated thunderstorms were in the forecast every day through July 8.
Even with the year only half over, it is already the wettest year on record in Austin, with more than 30 inches of rain since January. The Dallas-Fort Worth, Waco and Wichita Falls metropolitan areas have received near-record amounts, more than compensating for a drought that gripped much of Texas the previous two years, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Lenz.
The downpours have affected areas beyond the Lone Star State.
Oklahoma City broke a 70-year-old record for consecutive days with rain June 27 with its 15th straight day of rain. It rained again June 28 and June 29, with a 30 percent to 80 percent chance of more rain for each of the following 10 days. All 77 Oklahoma counties were under a state of emergency late June 28, and three water rescues were performed that day in one county.
Bishop Gregory M. Aymond of Austin said in a June 27 statement that flood victims “face a long road to recovery. I invite you to join me in prayer for them in their time of need and to help them in any other way that you can.”
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Editor’s Note: Donations can be made by mail to: Diocese of Austin’s Flood Relief Fund, P.O. Box 13327, Austin, TX 78711; or online at: http://www.austindiocese.org.