Die Nachrichten aus der Partnerstadt Leipzigs Houston/Texas sind erschreckend, die Bilder dramatisch. Nach dem Hurrikan „Harvey“ steht die Millionenstadt unter Wasser – und ein Ende der verheerenden Regenfälle ist nicht absehbar. Viel können wir von hier aus für unsere Partnerstadt nicht tun. Aber das Wenige ist wichtig genug. Darum bitte ich den Houston-Spendenaufruf tatkräftig zu unterstützen: durch eine Spende und durch die Weiterverbreitung des Aufrufs. Wir sollten ein starkes Zeichen der Verbundenheit mit den Einwohner/innen Houstons setzen, die am meisten von der Katastrophe betroffen sind. Vielen Dank.
Brief der Pfarrerin der Christ The King Lutheran Church Houston/Texas, Karin Liebster, und ihres Mannes Prof. DR. Matthias Henze vom 30.08.2017:
Thank you for your concern about the situation in Houston. Matthias and I very much appreciate your emails and kind thoughts. Today is the first day after Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston. It is hard to imagine how things were just two days ago, even for us. During the storm we of course did not venture out into the city and so we rely on the same pictures and video footage you can view.
According to the New York Times, the total amount of rain we have had in Houston since last Friday is 48 inches (by comparison, the average rainfall in Berlin, Germany over an entire YEAR is 22.5 inches). Our house is fine, thankfully it never flooded. Our central air condition broke Monday because of a brownout (frequent drops in voltage in the electric power supply coming into the house). Some grocery stores in Houston started reopening yesterday for a few hours in the morning, with long lines of customers, even though stores have not had any deliveries since Harvey. As of yesterday the rains have stopped in Houston, and Harvey moved to East Texas and Louisiana where it is hitting hard.
Here the flood waters are receding all over town, and most of the main streets are now passable; yet not all highways into town. There are large water reservoirs to the north and west of Houston that are at capacity, so water needed to be let off by controlled release into the canals/bayous of Houston, which, ironically, will lead to further flooding. The rivers north of Houston have gone over their banks and are wreaking havoc in Kingwood and Humble now that the rain has already stopped. All schools remain closed, and Rice will resume classes only next Tuesday, i.e., in a week from today. All culture centers in downtown (the opera, symphony, all theaters, etc) are flooded to some extent. Harris County is 1700+ square miles, with a population of 6.5 million people, and Harvey was, of course, much larger than Harris County. The number of destroyed homes (about twelve families in our church alone), flooded cars, and damage to the infrastructure in and around Houston is staggering. 30,000 people are currently without a home, and shelters have opened up all over town, one on the Rice campus, which fared very well by comparison and which is now eager to help the city.
Christ the King Church has water in the basement. The problem is worse than just pumps not doing their job. Water got under the building and its pressure cracked the foundation from underneath. I attach three photos. The first shows a home two blocks from our house. You can see that the house is elevated, and you can also see how high the water reached. Matthias took the other two photos yesterday when we drove downtown to the Red Cross Shelter at George R. Brown Convention Center to drop off some goods for evacuees. Houstonians were asked to donate clothes, games, and baby supplies, and they responded in unbelievable numbers. The donations you see in the first picture are only a small fraction of what people kept on bringing. Volunteers were turned away, because there were too many of them. Karin went back to the shelter tonight, together with a group of clergy colleagues, to provide spiritual support to people of all faiths. In September 2008 Houston was hit by Hurricane Ike. Ike was not nearly as bad as Harvey, and yet, Karin and I remember well how during the post-Ike months the city fell into a sort of collective depression; the general mood was clearly subdued. Houston is a remarkable city, as ethnically diverse as the US will be in mid-century, vibrant, and resilient. But this was a big one, and it will take a lot of time and energy to rebuild.
We are looking forward to gather with our worship community on the weekend and find some normalcy, solace, and hear each other’s stories. Thank you again for your concerns and good thoughts. With warm regards, Karin and Matthias