Sigourney pastor recounts experience in hurricane-ravaged Texas

Pastor Dave Welch drove by numerous homes annhiliated by Hurricane Harvey during his time in Rockport, TX. Photo submitted.

            Pastor Dave Welch of the Sigourney Christian Church has been involved in the American Red Cross for 12 years, joining the organization to assist after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

            “I was with an independent church and there was no way I could get down to help, and I wanted to help,” Welch said. “Then I saw an ad in the paper that the Red Cross was looking for volunteers. I ended up going down [to Louisiana] with the Red Cross in mass-care sheltering for Katrina. When I got home, there was a need for people who would respond to fire-a DAT team-and do it in a local sense.”

            After responding to numerous calls local and nationally for more than a decade, Welch watched the events of Hurricane Harvey unfold down south and Hurricane Maria in Florida. When he became available, Welch originally asked for permission to go down to Florida to help.

            “I went to the Red Cross and said ‘I’m available’ and have a gap, which is my specialty training in mass-care sheltering supervising,” Welch said. “I opened up to wherever they needed to send me, because Florida had just been damaged. I went to them and said ‘send me anywhere’ and I ended up assigned to a shelter in Corpus Christi.”

            Welch’s role when he arrived on September 17 was to manage the shelter and its crew, including six day crew members, eight Merchant Marines, plus four people in the night crew. He directed food efforts and worked with people seeking shelter to help plan their next move after the devastation of their homes and communities.

            “The people at the shelter were an amazing makeup; 20 percent homeless, about 60 percent extremely low income and 20 percent that were dislocated from the nearby city of Rockport,” Welch said.

            Rockport is a coastal city of 8,766 nicknamed “The Texas Riviera”. The area had been thriving in recent years due to its commercial boat building commerce, fishing, access to beaches and seafood. Hurricane Harvey ripped through the seaside community, leaving what Welch believed to be “more than 20 percent” of the original buildings standing in Rockport” right now.

            “Homes were leveled, businesses were leveled, and much of what wasn’t leveled was going to have to be torn down because of damage,” Welch said. 

Please view the October 11 edition of The News-Review for the full story.