From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Record-breaking floods cause hardship, deaths in Texas

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.UMC.ORG>
Date 27 Oct 1998 15:07:39

Oct. 27, 1998	Contact: Joretta Purdue*(202)546-8722*Washington

NOTE: This story is accompanied by a photograph, distributed Oct. 26,
and a sidebar, UMNS #626.

By Douglas Cannon*

Torrential rains Oct. 17-19 from San Antonio to Austin unleashed
unprecedented volumes of water into creeks and rivers across south
central Texas. With the muddy water came several deaths and widespread
property damage.

Crests three to 13 feet above previous century-flood levels were
reported in Cuero, Gonzales, New Braunfels, Seguin and Victoria.

San Antonio officially received nearly 17 inches of rain during the
first 24 hours. More than 20 inches drenched New Braunfels, 35 miles
northeast of San Antonio.

Rising water caused an estimated $500 million in property damage over a
25-county area and killed at least 29 people, including two United
* Jim Sutton, 57, a member of Northern Hills United Methodist Church in
San Antonio, and
* Charles F. Dennis, a member of Kingsbury United Methodist Church in
rural Guadalupe County, about 40 miles northeast of San Antonio.

Flooding affected at least 18 communities in the Southwest Texas Annual
(regional) Conference: Austin, Austwell, Bastrop, Bloomington, Bulverde,
Cuero, Floresville, Gonzales, LaVernia, Martindale, New Braunfels, San
Antonio, San Marcos, Schertz, Seguin, Smithville, Tivoli and Victoria. 

Two of the hardest-hit communities were Cuero, a city of 6,700 southeast
of San Antonio, and Seguin, a city of about 19,000 directly east of San

Damage surveys in Cuero showed 643 homes -- 26 percent of the city's
housing units - destroyed, said Carroll Buchhorn, a member of First
United Methodist Church in Cuero and the DeWitt County disaster-response
committee. More than 43 percent of the remaining houses were damaged.

"The loss in Cuero is $60 million," he said. "We think that's the
highest per-capita destruction in this flood."

At least eight families from First Church had water inside their homes,
said the Rev. G.B. "Tad" Tadlock, pastor. The part-time church custodian
lost his house. Another church employee's home had water up to the roof.

In Seguin, the Red Cross reported 253 homes destroyed and another 1,000
damaged. Many of those houses were valued at more than $100,000.
At least 46 families from First United Methodist Church in Seguin
suffered major damage from flooding along the Guadalupe River, said the
Rev. Tom Deviney, pastor.
In New Braunfels, at least 24 families from First United Methodist
Church there had four feet of water or more from the Guadalupe in their
homes, said the Rev. Fred Martin, senior minister. Several had only
concrete slabs where their homes had stood.

The Red Cross reported 115 homes destroyed and 665 damaged in New

In Gonzales, at least 20 families from First United Methodist Church had
water from the Guadalupe River invade their homes, said the Rev. Greg
Hackett, pastor. "I keep finding out about more," he added.

Thirteen of the 64 members of Belmont United Methodist Church, about 50
miles west of San Antonio, suffered major flood damage from the
Guadalupe River, said the Rev. Lundy Hooten, pastor.

A dozen members of Schertz United Methodist Church, 20 miles northeast
of San Antonio, had "significant problem with water" from Cibolo Creek,
said the Rev. Mark Elliott, pastor.

A half-dozen members of LaVernia United Methodist Church lost their
homes when Cibolo Creek covered that town about 25 miles southeast of
San Antonio, said the Rev. Carlos Cloyd, pastor.

Aid from United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) arrived first in
the person of  the Rev. David Kinman of Astoria, Ore., a
disaster-response specialist, who will spend almost two weeks in the

A first shipment of 400 UMCOR "flood buckets" containing cleaning
supplies arrived in Gonzales within a few days of the flood, and were
disbursed there and in Sequin and Cuero. The UMCOR warehouse has
dispatched another 700 to arrive Oct. 27 or 28.

After making his first tour of flooded areas on Oct. 20, Bishop Raymond
H. Owen sent a request to UMCOR for a $100,000 disaster relief grant to
aid 10 sites. The bishop also spent Oct. 24 visiting areas that had been

The Southwest Texas Annual Conference was also the scene of flooding
caused by Tropical Storm Charley in August -- especially in the area
around Del Rio. The losses experienced there and the most recent
flooding mean that five of the conference's seven districts will be
involved in reconstruction programs for three years, relief workers

United Methodists can make donations to UMCOR's Disaster Response No.
901315-0, earmarked "Texas Floods." Checks can be placed in church
collection plates or mailed directly to UMCOR at 475 Riverside Drive,
Room 330, New York, NY 10115.

# # #

*Cannon, communicator for the Southwest Texas Annual Conference and
editor of the Southwest Texas United Methodist Reporter, accompanied
Bishop Raymond H. Owen on two assessment trips into areas where the
floodwaters had just receded.

United Methodist News Service
Releases and photos also available at

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