City and county officials are preparing to assist in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
Conway Mayor Bart Castleberry said he has been in contact with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) to see if the city needs to take in any refugees from Houston.
"If we do, we will be prepared," he said, noting the Conway Fire Department’s family intake program that was established when he was fire chief during Hurricane Katrina. "We’ll do what needs to be done to help our neighbors in Texas."
Conway took in hundreds of refugees in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Parks and Recreation Director Steve Ibbotson said if the city takes in refugees from Houston, the set up would be similar to that.
"If we do, it will be at Don Owen like last time," he said referring to the Don Owen Sports Complex.
County Attorney David Hogue said Faulkner County has already responded to one Texas request.
"We sent a boat with search-and-rescue guys to Houston at their request," he said.
Other local help
Several churches and community members from the Faulkner County area are gearing up to support victims Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
Antioch Baptist Church, is partnering with its plant church, Antioch Georgetown (Texas). While Antioch Georgetown didn’t suffer any damage from the storm, it is only a couple hours away from places that experienced complete flooding.
Officials from Antioch Baptist in Conway said they will take donations through Friday morning when the supply trailer will travel to the Georgetown campus. There, pastor Andy Komer and the church will distribute those items to partner organization Austin Disaster Relief Network.
"We’re kind of serving as a hub to connect people in Arkansas to some of the work that’s going on there," Komer said.
Once the water retreats a bit, he said the church will gather teams to help with the labor efforts.
"We just feel like we can’t do nothing," Komer said.
He said the church should be the one who shows the most compassion to people, and while they can’t do everything and help everyone, they can do something.
Komer said the list posted on the church website and that was given to Antioch in Conway was from the disaster relief group they are working with and include: new undergarments and socks, toiletries, new bed pillows and blankets, cleanup supplies like leather work gloves, black trash bags, mops and buckets, utility knives, inflatable mattresses, hand sanitizer and box fans. Items not to bring include used clothes from the closet.
Sheila Sowell from Gap Mission Church in Conway said they are also collecting donations today Wednesday at Harps Food Store in Mayflower.
Sowell said they were contacted by a woman who is spearheading relief efforts and has around 600 people — 400 more are set to arrive Tuesday night — set up at a campground in New Caney, Texas.
She said the woman she has been in contact with there told Sowell they didn’t have anything and that the Hurricane Harvey victims were completely without clothes, toiletries and especially bottled water. Specifically pillows, blankets, bath towels, diapers, formula and food supplies were requested because they are able to cook.
New Life Church in Greenbrier sent a group of members who owned boats to Texas.
Quentin Washispack with NLC said the group drove through the night and got to Regent Care of Kingwood in Kingwood, Texas, Tuesday morning, put in their boats and managed to rescue hundreds of senior adults from a nursing home that had been flooded. He said they plan on being down there a couple of days.
Because of the height of the water, Washispack said nobody can get into the area without boats. He said the best way to help with efforts is to donate financially by texting HarveyRelief + $amount to 74483 or sending checks to NLC with Hurricane Harvey in the memo line.
Washispack said 100 percent of money collected goes to flood relief.
While NLC already has given $5,000 to three churches that were affected, he said after the water goes down, they plan on taking teams to help with cleanup.
The Beauty Bar in Conway and the Faulkner County Library are also collecting supplies to donate.
"Water is one of the biggest concerns," library employee Adrianna Davis said.
Davis said the library is collecting the items until Thursday including vienna sausages, apples and oranges, granola bars, string cheese, sardines, potted meat, crackers with peanut butter or cheese, hard candy, chocolate, candy canes, water bottles, hand wipes, nail clippers, Chapstick, pack of Kleenex, comb or small brush, dental floss, toothpaste and toothbrushes, hand sanitizer, new socks, underwear, T-shirts, shorts and pants in all sizes, backpacks, suitcases, duffle bags, colors and coloring books, gently used toys, diapers and wipes, band aids, sanitary items, Walmart gift cards, rubber boots, trash bags, bud spray, dry pet food and lots of bottled water.
The United States Agency for International Development Center for International Disaster Information (USAID CIDI) website states that monetary contributions to established, vetted relief agencies is always the best way to help in times of disaster. Donations are beneficial to survivors and help organizations.
For those interested in donating monetarily to the victims of Hurricane Harvey, start here: abc13.com/weather/how-to-help-the-victims-of-hurricane-harvey/2348094/.
If someone wishes to donate to churches in Texas that are providing relief efforts or partnering with relief organizations, consider Woodlands Church, www.wc.org/hurricane; Antioch Georgetown, antiochgt.com/give; Journey Church at journeytx.com/disaster-relief; Hope City Church at yourhopecity.com/flood; and Elevate Church at elevatepeople.tv.