National Guard soldier's truck getting saved by some rednecks in Texas



Only in Texas does the National Guard get bailed out by a bunch of rednecks with lifted trucks



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Harvey Storm: US churches helping disaster victims 


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Usually, on weekends , in these large, state-of-the-art auditoriums, children are cared for for prayer, Bible readings or lectures. Since Monday, August 28, the light-dimmed rooms have been transformed into dormitories for the victims of the Harvey storm. North of Houston, in the heart of a tree-lined campus , adorned with fountains and giant crosses, the "megachurch" - mega-church - of Pastor Kerry Shook went out of his way to welcome the refugees.

The massive mobilization of religious institutions, ubiquitous in the United States, allowed the rapid and organized opening of reception centers. This move is so natural that a polemic broke out earlier this week, after one of Texas's most famous evangelical pastors, Joel Osteen, refused to open its mega-church (nearly 17,000 seats) to the disaster victims . Faced with criticism, he eventually gave in . Elsewhere, volunteers and gifts flooded, sometimes even overflowing with those responsible for places of worship.

As water withdraws from homes and streets around Houston, some of these places are starting to empty . The mayor of the city confirmed on Thursday that the number of people welcomed in the shelters decreased. Even in difficult conditions, as soon as the roads are cleared, some residents of houses affected by the rising waters try to return home, to their family or to friends. Others, among the most precarious, are gathered in suitable places to rationalize efforts. With its university campus infrastructure, the Woodlands Church, which hosts nearly 12,000 faithful every Sunday, is one of those.

Thousands of migrants


Dressed in bright yellow t-shirts branded "Disaster relief" ( "assistance after the disaster"), the volunteers seem to exceed in number the dozens of victims still present in the day Thursday. A team of doctors is on the foot of war to meet the medical needs of the arrivals. Members of the church, a hairdresser and a masseur offered their services. The rooms where the donations are stored are full of cardboard, clothing, blankets, food. Computers were installed in the hall to allow the evacuees to complete their requests for assistance from the authorities or insurance companies. Spanish-speaking volunteers welcome Latino refugeesask for their papers. In the Houston area live and work several hundred thousand irregular migrants.

Sara, who arrived two days ago with her one-year-old daughter and her fiancé, after the inundation of their mobile home, enjoys the three meals a day and the resolutely cheerful atmosphere of the church. Next to her, a young woman with blackened teeth smokes on a bench, looking a little lost: she has just spent two nights on the spot with three members of her family and a neighbor in a wheelchair. Another woman, amputated with a leg and also in armchair, restores in the summer heat. "Here we do not welcome" refugees "," evacuees "or" homeless people ", but guests," says Alan Splawn, one of the leaders of the reception.

For a long time

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Accustomed to natural disasters - the church had sent volunteers to Haiti in 2010 during the earthquake, and in Louisiana after Katrina passed in 2005 - church leaders are already talking about reconstruction. "We are going to send volunteers to clear the houses and make first repairs. This will save people money, says Pastor Mark Miller. When they are back home, we can start distributing all the gifts we have received, in clothes, food, toys, toiletries ... "

"For the most serious situations, it would be necessary to install mobile homes on the land of the victims, the time they rebuild their homes. This solution, which allows children to return to the school in their neighborhood, was set up after Katrina, " explains Mr. Splawn. Here, the storm nice to be passed, its effects will still feel for weeks.

In the eastern state and Louisiana, evacuations are continuing. The record of Harvey, still provisional, is heavy. According to the White House, 100,000 households have been affected by the disaster. Nearly 800,000 Texans received an evacuation order, another 900,000 left their homes on their own initiative. And 44 people perished. The US president on Thursday asked Congress to release nearly 6 billion (5 billion euros) to supply emergency funds to come help the victims.

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