Hope Hill Hosts Ribbon Cutting
Updated: May 28, 2018
by Virginia Leech
From the flooded plain of the Colorado River to the high and dry "Hope Hill" on North Horton street, La Grange has traveled a long road, with local and outside assistance, to build a new community for those affected by the flood.
Saturday's ribbon cutting at Hope Hill, along with Holy Smokers' barbecue, celebrated the coming opportunities for those whose homes were lost in the flood.
The building of the approximate 64 homes will begin this summer, and the plan is for several completions later this fall and early spring. Fayette County Disaster Recovery Team Executive Director Kenny Couch says the homes will be a new community, a part of the city. "It will make a difference in everyone's lives."
Kevin King attributes the success of building this new community to "the city, the long term team and the churches coming together -- you don't see that very often." As executive director of Mennonite Disaster Service, he knows because he has directed work projects following disasters all over the world.
In agreement, CEO Robert Vidaurri of the Austin Disaster Relief Network said he came to rejoice the fruit from the seed planted over the last nine months. "Many people and many parties have come together to make this happen."
Father Matthew Kinney of Sacred Heart Catholic Church says that populations are typically lost in disaster areas. However in his parish Father Kinney is seeing an increase in attendance, which means hope has not been lost.
Giving hope to people has been the driving goal of the Fayette County Disaster Recovery Team. Immediately after the flood Steve and Joy Cameron's warehouse became the donation center where the chaos of the moment reigned until Joy began putting alphabet letters on the walls to organize the piled high donations of water, diapers, clothing, food, etc.
Today the warehouse on Reynolds St. remains headquarters, but the food is located at A.M.E.N. and the clothing at Second Chance, which is next door to the warehouse and also in temporary quarters after the flood. Flood victims come to the warehouse to talk to caseworkers Tina Croley, Sarah Barksdale, Crystal Daniels and Elizabeth Salinas. Cameron call the caseworkers the "heartbeat and the lifeline for each person who walks through that door." Cameron is president of the FCDRT.
She says, "God opened doors for this to happen." She recalls the time that Carl Dube of Mennonite Disaster Service asked to partner for a subdivision. That sounded ideal, but unrealistic at the time. However, the recovery team made the decision to go forward.
Months passed with volunteers mucking out houses, reconstructing flood-damaged homes, and building new ones when Samaritan's Purse entered the picture. Brent Graybeal says his organization's role as financial partner is to support long term groups with assistance. They partner with the Mennonites by providing home building supplies, etc.
Joey Melton, vice-president of FCDRT considers his volunteering important in helping families find success. "It's been a long road and will continue to be a long road ahead." However, he sees God's hand in the work.
"We work with the same boss," said Mennonite Kevin King. His church members have assisted Melton as construction manager with over 8,000 volunteer hours of repairing, cleaning up and new building. They are also funding some building supplies.
For those wishing to talk to a caseworker, please call (979)429-2939 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.