By RICK COUSINS Correspondent, Galveston News:
After each major storm here, national faith-based groups have come to assist in rebuilding houses and houses of
worship. Most are later called away to other areas after a year or so because their mandate is helping folks across
the entire country. And disasters are nothing if not perennial. But some of these non-profit
helpers are local and of these, some continue to help until all they have taken on have been repaired.
Even if it takes five years. As in the time it’s now been since Hurricane Harvey flooded tens of thousands of
homes. John Eckeberger, executive director of the 4B Disaster Response Network, will explain.
“Since Hurricane Harvey, we have worked in over 1,600 homes to aid families in recovery from the storm
damage, making them ‘safe, sanitary and secure,” he told Our Faith. “In early 2018 we turned our attention to
helping marginalized families (low income, single parents, senior adults, disabled and veterans) get completely
back to a pre-Harvey condition. To date, we have accomplished this in 489 homes in this area.”
The group was created here and is putting down some very deep roots to better serve local needs.
“We are repurposing a building in Texas City to serve as our operations center in order to house over 70
people as a shelter immediately following a disaster as well as the scores of volunteers who will come to assist
us in future recoveries,” Eckeberger added. Ted Tompkins is the operation manager for this non-profit ministry.
He helps oversee volunteers. Many of these are from area churches. “Our volunteers range from age
12 to 75,” he said. “They give anywhere from 2-8 hours a day. It would surprise you what a small group of
four or five people can accomplish in just four hours. No special skills are needed, other than a heart that
is willing to serve. We have people who train and teach the work to be done, and all tools are provided. The
most recent unexpected blessing was donations to provide the homeowner with furnishings for her house
as she lost everything in the flood. Our biggest challenge was having to tunnel under the slab
to fix plumbing broken underground.” Watching online, streaming video of home gurus fixing up and reselling houses may make it look like work that only experts can tackle, but Tompkins said that over 80 percent of even the
most miraculous restorations can be performed by volunteers working under professional supervision.
“We welcome small church groups, civic organizations, youth groups and individuals,” he said.
“As a faith based organization we seek to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to love as God loves.
Our volunteers help to rebuild homes while also developing new friendships and seeing that we
can come together as a community to help one another.” We’ll give the last word to Chris Short of Meridian, Miss. “My wife, Mary, and I have been serving with 4B since we partnered with them through
Eight Days of Hope after Harvey,” he said. “We have served, through our
sending church, Maranatha Fellowship Church, as full-time domestic disaster relief missionaries
since January of 2018. We fell in love with the mission and people here and have been driving back, living in our camper, and serving with Mary working with administrative and databases and my primary role has been project management.
Our passion is here and as long as God leaves the door open we plan to stay involved.”
To donate or volunteer as a church or individual, visit 4bresponse.org. For post-storm assistance, use
the “Contact us” tab at that site.
*Note*: Since this writing, Ted Tompkins has moved on to a pastoral counseling position at a local hospital and Chris Short has added the duties of Operations Manager to his existing role.