Port Arthur Disaster Recovery Trip Cancelled

Port Arthur Disaster Recovery Trip Cancelled

The March Disaster Ministries Work Team trip to Port Arthur Texas has been cancelled. For a variety of reasons the March date was no longer viable. The need in Port Arthur and other locations continues and we will re-evaluate other dates. If you or your congregation are interested in forming or being part of a disaster recovery work team, please contact Phil Shea at philofthedesert@yahoo.com or 602-663-5065.


3-9 March 2019

Contact for all questions: Phil Shea at philofthedesert@yahoo.com or 602-663-5065

 The Southwest Conference is sending a Work Team to Port Arthur, Texas to help with affordable housing recovery efforts following Hurricane Harvey. The work team will travel Sunday, 3 March and return Saturday morning, 9 March.  

Our UCC Disaster Ministries and volunteers stay in the communities affected by disaster long after the news stops covering them. At our work project in Port Arthur 17 of 19 affordable housing apartments have already been restored and we are getting ready for phase 2. Depending on volunteer commitments phase 2 should be completed in one more year. Due to the efforts our great UCC volunteers and other partners we are not only restoring housing after Hurricane Harvey, but we are restoring and adding “affordable” housing for a community sorely in need of affordable housing

We currently have a team of 7 and are looking for 7-8 more team members from across the Conference. Travel planning and information is being developed. It is our responsibility to get to and from Port Arthur based on our own individual financial commitments or donations from others.  

Please contact me with questions or if I can be available to speak to you leadership or interested volunteers (at least by video conferencing or phone). Also, forms and documents for volunteers can be provided upon request and will soon be available on this website.  Even if you cannot travel with us, we would appreciate donations through the Southwest Conference to support our work project.  

Phil Shea, SWC Disaster Coordinator 602-663-5065


The Disaster Event:

In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, bringing torrential rains and devastating flooding to Texas, leaving 900,000 people in need. Among those hit hardest - renters in already economically precarious Port Arthur.

The Southeast Texas Community Development Corporation (SETCDC) has provided low-income housing for more than 30 years, but now is facing tremendous difficulties related to property repair, since Hurricane Harvey flooded 17 of SETCDC's 19 units with two feet of water. As a result, the residents - who were already struggling to secure basic needs and services - were displaced, and much of their personal property was destroyed.

By providing SETCDC with the resources necessary for an adequate repair/rebuild, UCC Disaster Ministries hopes to empower the corporation and tenants and build long-term relationships of care and support for the community.


Volunteers are helping to repair homes for low income renters who were displaced by the floods. Work may include but will not be limited to light carpentry, drywall, insulation, flooring, trim and painting.

Educational/Advocacy Components:

• Preparation for the trip: "Mission Trips That Matter" by Don C. Richter, Upper Room Books 
• On-Site Reflection: "Meeting God in the Ruins: Devotions for Disaster Volunteers." Free copies may be ordered from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America by calling 800.638.3522 ext. 2580 (ISBN 6-0001-6788-1); pay shipping only.
• Follow-Up Action: Help your local community prepare for possible disaster and response. Be sure your congregation has a plan in case of local disaster (see the Disaster Resources Page. Get to know your UCC Conference Disaster Coordinator and stay involved.

Accommodations: Volunteers will stay in a large, newly renovated house located in Beaumont, Texas. The home is equipped with central air, Wi-Fi and common areas. Beds and/or cots and kitchen access provided. Groups bring own bedding and prepare own meals. Volunteers will be expected to share shower and bathroom facilities. Note: there is only one bathroom.

FAQs About the Project:

How is the housing set up regarding men and women?  We are all adults and can share but many people may want to know to manage expectations.

We have a wi-fi equipped 3-bedroom guest house for 12 (twin bunks with new mattresses - bring your own bedding – 13 if you count the couch) in Beaumont, Texas.  One bedroom sleeps four with 2 twin beds and one bunk bed. Another room has 3 twin beds. The third sleeps 5 with 1 twin bed and 2 bunk beds. (It will be crowded but it might be possible to take a twin bed from one of the other bedrooms and add it to the large bedroom if needed for gender configuring).  Only one bathroom – two sinks - but that has not been a problem so far.   

Is the kitchen equipped for preparing and serving meals to the entire group as opposed to each person or two preparing their own?  Would we have to bring our own dish towels, etc.?  Are cleaning supplies, including dish soap, there so we can clean before we leave?

Great kitchen w coffee pots and microwave, pots and pans, dishes, silverware, even dish towels, and plenty of cleaning supplies (most of the time - we can get more) 

Are there laundry facilities if needed? 

New washer and dryer just off the kitchen.

How far is the lodging facility from the various work sites?  Will we need more than one of our own vehicles for local transportation to/from sites, etc.?

·Working on units in Port Arthur about 15-18 miles away. You may be going to two sites or more and you will need enough transport for your whole team.  You will need water and coolers for ice and lunches.

Are there charges other than the $10/day/person for participants?

We have no daily charge.  You are making the trip, working, and feeding yourselves; we can ask nothing more.

Is there anything that participants should bring along to support the effort extra kitchen supplies, donations of any sort, etc?

Most anything you can bring along is welcomed, of course.  We have received cheeses from Wisconsin, a big coffee pot, a slow cooker, and a large roasting pan.  Money is always helpful. 

Are clean up buckets still needed for any of the sites?

At this point no – but they are always handy for hauling – even water and ice.

 We have two Central PA UCC trailers full of tools.  If you really want your own favorite tools, you may bring them, but clearly label them and keep track of them.