BY ALBERT TREVINO
LIVINGSTON – Hundreds of flood evacuees staying at Livingston-area motels last week received much-needed assistance, provided and delivered by local church groups.
Several local churches recently organized to donate home-cooked meals and essential items for an estimated 450 flood evacuees affected by Hurricane Harvey that reportedly checked in to La Quinta, Holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inn, America’s Best Value Inn or Motel 6 in Livingston.
Volunteers from the church groups have donated generous amounts of their homemade dinners and desserts to be delivered each day to the hotels. The groups have also worked in coordination with the Center of Hope to provide clothing and other essentials items to evacuees.
In addition to those coming from Houston and surrounding areas, many hotel guests are Polk County residents who were also forced out of their homes due to the heavy floods.
Shortly after the hurricane, some of the church groups had already began delivering food and other items to hotels. Leadership from the local churches later held a meeting to better organize their efforts to meet the needs of all the chain hotels in Livingston.
One of the lead organizers for the project, Kristy Murphy of Life Vine Church, has been coordinating with other churches and groups to help cover the needs of evacuees at each hotel.
“Everyday, I go to the hotels and see what their need is.” said Murphy. “If we do not have it at our church, I go to Center of Hope or contact First United Methodist Church. Collectively, we all meet their needs. Then every night, we have a hot dinner served at the hotels.”
Meals have been donated by several local churches, including First United Methodist Church, Life Vine Church, First Baptist Church, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, First Presbyterian Church and Midway Church.
Other groups have donated to the cause, including teachers from Big Sandy Independent School District and Clifton Chevrolet in Corrigan. In addition, more than 200 meals were reportedly provided to evacuees and F.E.M.A. employees by First Apostolic Church in Goodrich.
Dinner items donated to the hotels have included barbecue, tacos, enchilada casseroles, baked potatoes and more. The hot meals have been much-appreciated by the evacuees, according to Murphy.
“They are definitely not eating just sandwiches.” Murphy said. “They just really feel like it is the only good meal they get a day.”
The volunteer groups will continue to provide food and other items this week, with many families expected to stay at their hotels rooms much longer.
“It looks like they will probably be in the hotel for two more weeks.” said Murphy. “Some of them do not have a place to go home to. They go in the daytime to work, then come back to the hotel exhausted at night and just need a good hot meal. We honestly feel like there will continue to be a need.”
The churches are currently seeking meal donations of primarily casseroles and desserts, which can be stored and later delivered. Those who would like to donate food can contact Kristy Murphy at (936)-933-0975.
Those wishing to make donations of clothing or essential items can contact Center of Hope at (936)-327-7634.