Harvey flood volunteer: 'God has a way of showing his presence when we need it most.' Why I helped and what I saw

Editor's note: This is a letter from Tim Knesek of La Grange, Texas, about how his community was hit by flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey and how he volunteered to help those in need. It is written to his adult daughter, Jordan, who lives in the New York City area and works for Fox News. She was visiting her parents when the storm began to hit.

My Jordan,

Oh how our little Mayberry has changed since you left. Hurricane Harvey pounded La Grange for two days before you had a brief window to make your flight back to the city. Unfortunately, Harvey was not through with our town and others in its path.

I returned from the airport after dropping you off and was surprised when I drove by church and found the parking lot empty. In past years, we had been a primary point for those seeking shelter from storms.

Second Baptist was the point church for this year, so I went by and volunteered to prepare breakfast for evacuees on Wednesday. Little did I know that the Lord had other plans for our church.

The Colorado River was projected to crest at 49 feet Monday, with some flooding anticipated. Sunday was the first night we slept well, as I had stayed up watching the storm’s path for nights before. That’s probably why I didn’t hear the additional six inches of rain that fell that night.

Our final tally was over 28 inches of rain from Friday night through Monday morning. The additional rains would push the crest of the river over 54 feet.


It was 5:56 a.m. Monday when I got a text on my phone. Scott from church put out a cry for help. The evacuation area had now expanded to include the Care Inn Nursing Home. Fifty patients were headed to St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church for shelter.

By the time I arrived, all the patients had been transported to our church and we were headed to the nursing home to collect needed items because it was taking on water. God’s people had breakfast cooking by the time I arrived at church followed by an entertaining game of bingo led by Brother David.

It must have seemed like one heck of a field trip for those folks. The administrator found room at another nursing facility out of town and by 3 p.m. the last patient had been moved. People taking care of people – I’m pretty sure God was proud of his children that day.

Many commented from miles around that day on the beauty of a double rainbow painted in the sky. Funny how God has a way of showing his presence when we need it most.

Monday evening your mom and I walked downtown to the river’s new edge. The water charted its new path running through houses and businesses as if it was its natural course.

Many commented from miles around that day on the beauty of a double rainbow painted in the sky. Funny how God has a way of showing his presence when we need it most.

A group of us from work and church now had the task of serving 42 of God’s children taking up residency at Second Baptist. We had plenty of servers, so I ventured out into the crowd to talk with folks and listen to their stories.

It was my conversation with an elderly couple that I remember most. They had moved to La Grange to take care of the lady’s mother. The husband had a stroke about a year ago, but seemed to have recovered fairly well.

They were selling their trailer house on Monday and planned to move back to New Mexico.

But that dream floated down the river Monday along with many others. They had a small boy with them – their grandson. Their daughter gave birth to him while in prison and they had raised the boy since he was a day old.

I told that boy to take care of his grandparents. He was the only gift left for them after years of living. I sure hope that little boy becomes president one day

The city opened the flooded area for clean up Thursday morning. This is where I spent my afternoon Thursday and Friday, helping clean up the flood’s destruction. You would not believe the number of people, tractors and dumpsters that lined the streets.

FEMA will help out in the long run to get these folks back on their feet, but today it was God’s unpaid army showing up to rebuild. Kind of sad it has to work this way, but it is tragedy that many times bring out our best.

The waters that flowed through did not discriminate in their path. Nor did the people trying to put these lives back together.    

It will be different when you return. We lost about 300 homes in the flood. Some people will return, but others will not. Many who lost everything were the very people who could afford it the least. Mostly, they worked in service-related jobs to help make our lives better.

Have no worries about our town. La Grange has given much to build the lives of many. Now those lives, along with many others, will rebuild what has been taken by the flood.

Yes, the town will be different when you return. We will be stronger for what we have endured.

God bless and hope to see you soon.  

Love you!


Tim Knesek lives near La Grange, Texas and has worked in the agricultural lending business in Central Texas during his thirty years career. During this time, he has served various organizations that help improve the lives of others.