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Update from Texas, Prayers for Florida

Hi Everyone, Thank you for your prayers as Texas begins recovery from Harvey. We are praying for Florida now as Irma approaches the islands and Florida.

Early estimates are that there are about 300,000 displaced people whose homes have been destroyed by Harvey. Catholic Charities is assisting thousands of people daily throughout the state. Thank you to all of you who have shared our humanitarian donations link.

Because there are still several communities in Texas that are underwater and anticipate further flooding as dams release and rivers crest based on these releases, we still don’t know the final number of parishes and schools that need rebuilding. We are getting closer to an accurate number. It seems that there are about 90 parishes that are damaged and will need at least some level of rebuilding and replacement of all liturgical and catechetical resources.

There are 30 schools that have sustained major damage ranging from total destruction to a foot of water inside. There are 7,500 Catholic school students who will be displaced as these schools are unlikely to be able to open within the next few weeks. Many of these students will be relocated to other Catholic schools in Texas as many of the students in these schools have also lost their homes. We had hope that some schools could operate out of portable buildings during rebuilding, but are no portable buildings available as there are also dozens of public schools that are destroyed or badly damage as well. Our Catholic school superintendents have done a fantastic job so far of finding available seats for displaced students and this work will continue in the weeks to come. We are assessing whether or not to create a statewide tuition assistance fund to assist longer term with tuition for these families.

In terms of our church infrastructure work, we are announcing today our parish and school partnership program. We would appreciate if any of you can please share the announcement below with your parishes, schools, and on the USCCB “Bishops Only” website. We may do a Catholic media release on this as well.

Texas Parish and School Partnership Program

Many Catholic parishes and schools damaged by Harvey need substantial aid. The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops is assisting diocesan staff with identifying parishes and schools where structures or materials were damaged or destroyed beyond the ability of the local community to rebuild independently. Because these parishes and schools are in communities where homes and businesses were also devastated, recovery will be much harder.

In the past, non-impacted communities have paired with impacted communities to assist with recovery from disasters. Through this “twinning process,” communities throughout the United States “adopt” an impacted parish or school to help them rebuild structures and resupply materials.

For those who can offer help, parishes and schools are welcome to offer immediate aid by clicking here to tell the TCCB that you stand ready to help. The initial data collection of needs and offers begins with your completion of this form. As soon as we begin receiving applications, we can begin matching needs to offers of help. We hope to start working with diocesan staff to match parishes and schools by Sept. 15, 2017. Please contact recovery@txcatholic.org with questions.

Thanks again to all of you for your support and prayers.

Michael – you and all of the dioceses and people of Florida are deep in the heart of the prayers of Texans this week. The Texas Bishops prayed today on our conference call for those at risk of impact of Irma.

In His Peace,
Jennifer Allmon
Executive Director
Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops

Visit our Website at: www.txcatholic.org
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 13285, Austin, Texas 78711
Physical Address: 1600 Congress Ave., Austin, Texas 78701
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