Hurricane Hanna brought added misery to a community devastated by COVID-19 on July 25 when it hit South Texas and Mexico. For New Life Christian Center in San Benito, Texas, the damage served as inspiration to keep praying and assisting neighbors.
“All around here people are struggling with the water,” said Eduardo Hinojosa, pastor of the Mennonite Church USA congregation, on Aug. 6.
The rain was still falling, coming to more than 12 inches since the storm first arrived.
“We have mosquitoes, the big ones now because of the standing water,” he said. “We had a double whammy.”
The first hurricane to make landfall in Texas since Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the storm had sustained winds of 90 mph and dropped up to 18 inches of rain in some areas.
Shingles were blown off the church’s roof, letting in water. Portions of the interior ceiling collapsed, and drywall has been damaged by water.
In response, church members checked on neighbors to repair houses and deliver food and Mennonite Central Committee relief and school kits.
“We’re trying to help,” Hinojosa said. “The community has needs, so the church has to move the love of God into action.”
COVID-19 had already made life difficult for vulnerable families, some undocumented, to find work or visit a doctor, even without flooding and other storm damage.
“It’s really bad here in the valley,” Hinojosa said, noting store closures mean many people are either out of work, or only working a fraction of the hours they need for income. “I think it’s 38-40 people are dying every day, but we’re working through it.
“We put on our mask and pray and ask God to help us so we can help others because there’s need.”
As New Life continues its sharing ministries, it is also looking ahead to the school year and distributing school supplies to neighbors, undocumented families and those living in asylum camps.