HAMBURG – Brett Huss has learned a lot about himself and his faith as a crisis response volunteer for Outreach Global, which has been helping rebuild Houston, Texas, after Hurricane Harvey, but he wonders if there is more to learn.
The 58-year-old Hamburg man was using his construction experience to lead volunteer groups, gutting the flood-ruined homes in one of America’s largest metropolitan areas and helping people regain their living spaces, when he heard news about severe flooding in Nebraska and Iowa.
His own house was probably a few feet out of the established flood plain, but much of his personal belongings are in a storage unit near a lowland truck stop. He headed for Hamburg and was struck by what he found.
Huss: “I was overwhelmed. Normally, I get to do a clinical version of this. So, I drive a thousand miles and I go. I’m really good at picking up the pieces, directing volunteers, getting in and helping people recover, but only from the clinical side.”
When the disaster comes to your hometown, he said, there is an emotional aspect that he had not truly felt before. He thought about why he had volunteered for crisis response in the first place.
Huss: “Really, honestly, I didn’t have time. I was busy with my life and he (missions leader) kept harassing me and finally I said fine, I’m going to go. I’m going to put it on my bucket list. I’m going to do my week and be done with it.
“But, when I got there, I got impacted. I saw the vision of the program and I saw what I could do.”
Outreach Global has not decided if it will officially organize a disaster recovery team along the Platte and Missouri rivers, but Huss said he believes his experiences in the aftermath of a hurricane have prepared him for a disaster at home.
Huss: “I’ve seen this kind of devastation somewhere else and it’s become normal … I popped up over the hill and I looked over the valley and it was full of water. It hit me and said my home has been devastated.”
Huss: “It looked like Houston. There is stuff piled up on both sides of the road. The road was all messed up. I got to tell you, it was hard to take in.”
He is working with city officials in hopes of getting water to his house later this summer and says crews are rebuilding natural gas lines. The flood water is slowly receding, but the levee broke in 14 places and residents are bracing for more flooding ahead.
Huss wonders what will happen when he finally reaches his prized possessions in the flooded storage units. He wonders how he will answer his neighbors if asked to give an account for the Christian way of life.
Huss: “When you see people around you that are willing to … People in Houston would say why are you doing what you are doing? You’re doing this for free, why are you helping me, I don’t understand.’
“They can’t grasp that because in our society it’s all about what’s in it for me. And Jesus isn’t about that. It’s about grace. This is an opportunity for people to learn there is more to life than possession. There is more to life than what you see. I’ve seen lots of miracles come through the biggest tragedies.”