Baptist men help rebuild in Victoria

Ismael Perez By Ismael Perez

Sept. 24, 2017 at 9:51 p.m.
Updated Sept. 25, 2017 at 1:03 p.m.

John Roby, of San Antonio, with the Texas Baptist Men's Disaster Assistance, cuts a limb from a tree that fell during Hurricane Harvey while other members pull a rope attached to the limb to ensure it falls in the intended direction. "Everybody needs a hobby in retirement," Roby said.

John Roby, of San Antonio, with the Texas Baptist Men's Disaster Assistance, cuts a limb from a tree that fell during Hurricane Harvey while other members pull a rope attached to the limb to ensure it falls in the intended direction. "Everybody needs a hobby in retirement," Roby said.   Nicolas Galindo for The Victoria Advocate

The loud, roaring sound of chainsaws Saturday morning was soothing to Joe Dahlstrom, who lives in the 300 block of West Brazos Street.

His home sustained minimal damage from Hurricane Harvey, but his garage had a big limb through the roof.

Instead of being on the wait list with a commercial tree removal service, Dahlstrom sought help from a faith-based group.

"I'm 73 years old, so I wasn't interested in climbing a tree and chopping off limbs," he said. "It's amazing how well they know their job. I was very impressed by the way they went about this."

The Dahlstroms' home was the first of five a group of volunteers from Texas Baptist Men were scheduled to visit to help with hurricane disaster relief.

The Baptist men are from a faith-based organization that formed in 1967 with the mission to share the love of Christ through words and deeds.

"By the way, we cut down trees, too," laughed chainsaw coordinator Den Moberley, 76, of San Antonio.

Moberley said the organization has a team come in once a week, and they rotate in and out of each location.

He said most of the volunteers are older and retired.

The faith group have had 603 job requests so far in the Crossroads and have completed 417 of those jobs since Aug. 29.

They are no longer accepting new requests.

"It's hard work," Moberley said. "Some people don't believe there are old guys doing this."

The volunteers have been staying at Northside Baptist Church during their time in Victoria. Most of the volunteers are from Texas, while some have traveled from neighboring states.

The Texas Baptist Men arrived at the end of August, right after the first responders. Some of their jobs deal with tree removal and wind damage.

Moberley said their priority is helping the elderly, disabled and uninsured.

"A lot of the time the owners do a lot of the work, but we take care of the bigger jobs the owners can't do," Moberley said.

After each chainsaw job, the team gives a Bible to the homeowners.

The team members sign it and pray for the homeowner.

"They get pretty emotional," Moberley said. "We don't charge them anything. We are just here because we love them and we love Jesus Christ. If they give us a smile, that's our reward."

He said it is hard to say how much longer they will be helping people in Victoria.

The Texas Baptist Men usually go into an area until their job is finished or they run out of volunteers.

"For now, we will stay as long as we can until the job is done," Moberley said.


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