On September 12, 2013 the torrential rain hit hard in Socorro. Whole parts of the city were flooded, cars got stuck in the mud and water and many residents experienced the real disaster of water and mud entering their homes. Shortly after this flooding, County Judge Veronica Escobar declared the State of Emergency for the City of Socorro. Also Governor Rick Perry ordered in October 2013 the Deputy Commissioner of Texas Department of Agriculture “to make available to the citizens of El Paso County any and all assistance which they may be eligible under emergency circumstances.”
Many organizations sprang to help to provide support to the affected people. Also Rebuilding Together El Paso, stepped in and focussed on the support in which it is at its best. Although the charter of Rebuilding Together El Paso was limited to provide support within the City of El Paso, special funds were obtained to finance the activities in Socorro. Also our “volunteers without borders” could be mobilized.
By the end of the year we had helped several homeowners by replacing sheetrock walls, which were damaged by the incoming mud. As you can imagine when a City cleans up after such a disaster a lot of trash accumulates and with the help of volunteers of Team Red White and Blue of Fort Bliss and the Bethel Bible Church the trash was removed. Cleaning up is part of our basic activities, but this time it was quite an unusual activity to work with such heavy equipment.
The activities of the National Rebuilding Event Day and reorganizations in the Board put a halt on our capacity to help, but now we have taken up again our explorations of the needs. Our new Director for Home Review Raul Grajeda and Roger de Moor started several exploration trips to Socorro and visited affected families. One visit stood out when we met the sisters Beth and Julia in one of the backstreets of the spread out city. Finally finding the address, we were greeted by an enthusiastic golden retriever, who immediately understood that we were friendly people. The wooden house made a welcoming impression and the sisters invited us in to investigate the damages at their home. The flood water had come in through the doors and ceiling, leaving its marks like you can observe in the pictures below. In order to avoid falling through the floor they had on four or five places boards under the carpet.
Joe, the homeowner and husband of one of the sisters, was at the hospital during our visit and we only can hope that this was not related to the unsafe situation in his home. There were not only damages at the floor, but also the wall in a cupboard came apart, creating an electrocution hazard .
In the mean time Rebuilding Together El Paso has amended its Bylaws, as to support also activities in Socorro, as part of the County of El Paso. This is under the condition that the grant provider who’s money we use must allow for it.
Socorro, has in the mean time recovered to a large extend. The city is cleaned up and many citizens are with the help of support organizations like Rebuilding Together put on their feet again. The next picture mind remind us that it is sometimes a challenge to keep our feet dry.