Washington, DC (BWA)--Baptists in Texas in the United States were among those affected by the severe drought and wildfires that have had an impact on the state.
The drought, in addition to strong winds, unseasonably warm temperatures, and low humidity, has helped to spark wildfires in parts of the state. The fires first peaked in April and May. Strong winds occasioned by Tropical Storm Lee reignited a series of fires over the Labor Day weekend in early September. More than 3.5 million acres have been burned, and flames destroyed more than 1,000 homes in Central Texas alone.
Several members of Calvary Baptist Church in Bastrop County, one of the worst affected areas where more than 34,000 acres were destroyed, lost their homes. Primera Iglesia Bautista, also in Bastrop, which is about 30 miles southeast of the state capital of Austin, housed 10-12 families and served as a supply distribution center for those affected by the fires. Colorado River Cowboy Church in Smithville in Bastrop County ran a kitchen to aid first responders and evacuees, and an arena for livestock displaced by the flames.
A number of other Baptist churches have been used as shelters for evacuees by the American Red Cross, including First Baptist Church of Possum Kingdom, where at least three dozen homes were burned in the area. The church sanctuary was burned in previous wildfires in April. While worship services were still being held in the gym at the church, many were absent as approximately half its regular attendees had to either deal with fire damage or were unable to go home.
Baptists in the communities of Hogg Bend, Sportsman's World and Gaines Bend have also suffered from the fires.
Texas Baptist Men operated a feeding unit for approximately 1,000 persons, providing three meals per day. The group opened a distribution center in Central Texas offering items such as clothing, diapers, baby food, water, toiletries and other basic necessities.
"Texas Baptists churches are attempting to reach out to those affected by the fires and help however possible," the Baptist General Convention of Texas stated.
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