During the week of February 14, severe winter storms swept through Texas, leaving more than 14 million residents without power or access to clean, safe water in their homes. Freezing temperatures caused pipes to burst. For weeks after, many families were still without water in their homes.
Lance Berkman, a former Major League Baseball player who spent the majority of his 15-year career with the Houston Astros, shared about the crisis on social media and offered his support.
“I want to tell you about one of my favorite charities that my wife and I have supported over the years: Water Mission,” he said. “I have personally seen their work in places like Haiti and appreciate the quality they bring to every project.”
Berkman explained how Water Mission was collaborating with Plumbers Without Borders and Austin Disaster Relief Network to mobilize skilled plumbers and provide urgently-needed materials. The focus of this recovery effort was to get safe water flowing in homes for the most vulnerable residents, including the elderly, individuals with disabilities, and those without insurance.
“I am so thankful for Water Mission’s impactful response in helping my home state of Texas recover from this crisis,” Berkman said.
As a Christian engineering nonprofit, Water Mission aims to honor God by developing, implementing, and sharing best-in-class safe water solutions that transform lives. Water Mission has provided safe water, sanitation, and hygiene solutions to nearly 7 million people in 57 countries. With headquarters in South Carolina and a natural disaster in Texas, the crisis called for local relief work this time around.
Water Mission focused on restoring access to safe water in people’s homes with the help of professional plumbers who volunteered. Corporate partners provided essential materials, supplies, and transportation services. These partners, in addition to Plumbers Without Borders and Austin Disaster Relief Network, included American Standard, Cla-Val USA, FedEx, Georg Fischer, Hand of Hope, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Parker Hannifin, Uponor North America and Victory Plumbing.
Berkman wasn’t the only one paying attention to this critical disaster response. The story gained traction in the media as various audiences showed support for their Texas neighbors. NBC News wrote: “Water Mission is putting together a game plan for doing repairs that will take weeks, if not months, to finish and has asked a partner organization, Plumbers Without Borders, to call up 1,600 licensed volunteers to help with the enormous repair job.”
K-LOVE cited George C. Greene IV, the CEO and president of Water Mission, on the disruption that a lack of running water brings: “People still have to go to the bathroom and so there’s a potential sanitation issue that is probably the number one concern,” he said. “What if you’re unable to take a shower for two weeks?”
The “Today Show” interviewed John Peays, director of global partnerships at Water Mission. Peays discussed how people could lend a hand with what he called “the largest plumbing disaster on record.”
The recovery effort has helped residents like Connie, a 59-year-old woman living alone in a mobile home. When the storm initially hit, she was not expecting it to last. “We don’t usually get snow or ice that lasts more than a day,” she explained. The long wheelchair ramp attached to her front door was unsafe to use when it became covered in ice. Because of this, she was unable to go to work for a week.
After Connie’s pipes burst the weekend after the storm, she was without water for 12 more days. She showered elsewhere and brought in buckets of water to flush the toilet. Even if plumbing services had been readily available, Connie felt financial stress. “I’m one of those who lives paycheck to paycheck,” she said, “so I don’t have insurance to call on.”
Two volunteer plumbers arrived on March 4 to serve as the hands and feet of Christ. They crawled under the trailer to find the source of the leak. In less than an hour, she had running water again. “[I feel] so much better. A sense of something being lifted off my shoulders,” she said. “It’s amazing what water makes you feel. It’s almost overwhelming.”
At home or abroad, safe water is a necessity in any crisis. Please pray for our neighbors in Texas, emergency responders, government officials, and all the people supporting the recovery effort. You can also learn more about Water Mission’s response here.
Katie Kelton is a freelance writer for Water Mission.
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