July 25, 2008

Buckner weathers Dolly; help sought for colonias

By Jenny Pope, Buckner International
Published: July 25, 2008

MISSION—Buckner Children and Family Services’ Rio Grande Children’s Home fared well through Hurricane Dolly, suffering only a blackout.

But many residents in colonias where Buckner works throughout the region suffered considerable damage and are left with immediate needs, Buckner staff based in the Lower Rio Grande Valley reported.

Hurricane Dolly continued to bring torrential rains and flooding even after being downgraded to a tropical storm. This photo was taken outside Jorge Zapata's house in La Feria, where they've declared it a disaster area due to flooding. (Photo by Jorge Zapata)“The 27 children at the (children’s) home are safe, and no one needed to be evacuated,” said Michelle Harris, director of residential and transitional ministries at Buckner. “The tragedy, though, is that a lot of people in the region lost everything they own.”

Flooded highways

Dexton Shores, director of ministry development for Buckner in Mexico and along the Texas-Mexico border, said many sections of the two main highways in the Valley are flooded and the Department of Public Safety is not letting people drive through much of the region.

“We have Buckner staff driving through the colonias closest to their homes to see what they can do. They’ve discovered that many people are flooded out, many have lost their roofs and the rain has destroyed all their belongings,” Shores said.

Buckner mission coordinator Cheyenne Solis reported Thursday that colonias he visited in Donna and Progreso experienced “much damage with flooded streets, water inside houses, cars (flooded), broken windows and extreme roof damage.”

According to Solis, many families living in colonias are trapped and unable to leave to get basic needs, such as food, water and hygiene products.

“These are just some of the needs for all of the colonias stateside and in Mexico,” he said. “Many residents are without electricity.”

Jorge Zapata, Buckner colonia program director, said the floodwaters “got close, within one-half inch” of the bottom of the door of his home, “but thankfully none of it came inside the house.” Zapata lives in La Feria, where the mayor declared the city a disaster area due to flooding.

Colonia residents need food, clothes

Shores reported a need for financial support to provide clothes, food, building materials and furniture. As damage is further assessed, Buckner will seek additional help from churches and mission groups to repair damage in the colonias, he added.

Albert Reyes, president of Buckner Children and Family Services, said the ministry is relying on churches and individuals to respond the needs of colonias residents.

“Our churches have been faithful through the years to work alongside Buckner to help so many people in need in the Valley, and we need those partners now more than ever,” he said.

Anyone wishing to donate may do so online at www.buckner.org or by calling the Buckner Foundation at (214) 758-8050.


1 comment:

TexasUpRoar said...

What this article fails to disclose is that the people living in colonias are illegal immigrants. That's why they can't get aid through normal chanels. Colonia residents need to be sent home.

Should the Texas State Legislature pass immigration enforcement laws in 2009?