Hurricane Irma Response: Key West Updates
Updates from OPC Disaster Response in Key West, FL (September 16, 2017)
September 20, 2017:
From Deacon Bob Keys (member of Keys Evangelistic Ministries Board of Directors)
Just talked to Bill Welzien a few minutes ago!
He and the other members of Keys OPC are back in their homes with non drinkable water and most with power.
Bill and Sessie and family sustained a tree on their incoming electrical line and may be without power for another few days... they have a working generator and Bill was picking up gasoline as we talked.
Bill's house has some siding off and the electrical issues but sounds to me to be left in fairly great shape...
We need a new Keys OPC sign out front but church is also in great shape! Terrance and Andy's home appears to be in good shape with really little issues...
We know that a couple of other families and individuals in the church have damaged roofs and major shingle loss...
Still don't know the extent of damage on those homes, but the damaged water line into Bill's home has been repaired by Raun Treible, who traveled down for the initial OPC site assessment.
Most of the trees in the Keys are either down or badly weathered.... Bill commented that he can see things he has never viewed before with all the foliage gone!!!!
Brothers and sisters, there is much to thank the Lord for with this initial report... More details will be forthcoming as more assessments will be made on others homes and property...
All our members' vehicles sound like are working and were not seriously damaged...
God has answered many of our prayers and there is a lot of opportunity for discussion about the hope of Christ! These are hidden blessings we might miss!
September 20, 2017:
The Welzein family returned home to a mostly intact house! Electricity was missing due to a tree that fell on the power lines and damaged the electric mast leading to the house. The mast has been replaced now and they are waiting on the power company to hook up the lines. He is missing some siding that needs to be repaired. The main water line was also broken by a tree and that has been fixed. The water is non-potable, but is now flowing to the house. A generator has been installed as well. The neighborhood is quite a mess, with trees and various debris strewn all over. The sheer amount of debris and clean up needed is overwhelming. Bill notes that he can see things he’s never seen before because all the trees are either gone or stripped bare.
The church building also sustained the storm well. The church sign is damaged beyond recovery and there is some concrete work to be done for repairs, but nothing that is structurally threatening. There is no evident water damage inside the building.
Most church members had evacuated and not all have returned. With this, a curfew in place (dusk to dawn), and debris scattered so widely, a full assessment has not been available for members’ homes. Bill and the team are trying to contact the members as they are able to gather details. One member, Annie, had virtually her whole roof blown away and it’s off the foundation (next steps still being identified), while a few others had minimal damage. Certainly as other members are able to return and report status, there will be further needs manifested.
Bill, in his regular fashion, has been able to use these things already as opportunities to witness to those around him. He has spoken with a worker in the area and invited him to church, and has also had more in-depth conversations with a neighbor.
Please pray for Bill as he tries to see to the needs of the flock physically during this time, while also seeking to prepare sermons and utilize these critical moments for evangelism. Pray also for the work down there with the team, and the continued assessments and vital repairs underway.
September 19, 2018:
The Key West evacuees are returning! Authorities are allowing people to return to the Keys after Hurricane Irma, and our team from Keys Chapel are now among those heading home! Tuesday morning (9/19), the group met to load up equipment, pray together and head back home, departing around 8am.
The initial priorities are to see to the Welzein home, the church, and the properties of the members of the congregation there. The team needs to establish a good base of operations and service to the community, starting with ensuring these places are inhabitable at this time. We believe the Welzein home and the church are structurally intact, but will need some work. However there isn’t a full report yet on those or on the members’ homes, some of which may have been drastically impacted. We’ve heard of one member already whose house is missing the majority of the roof, so we are anxious to see how we can best care for the church family.
The Welzein family, along with Elder Tim Warner and Raun Treible (from Lake Sherwood OPC, Orlando) will seek to do initial assessments this week, along with fixing any properties they are able. When they are able to report, we will be able to gear up for the next wave of supplies and volunteers. Please pray for this forward assessment team (and local residents) during this critical time in the support process as they return home to wide-spread devastation, and that the Lord’s mercy would be shown forth through this team and those that may follow.
September 16, 2017:
from Bill Welzien, Pastor, Keys OPC, Key West, Florida
Green light to return tomorrow.
Our plan at this moment is to worship at Reformation OPC in Oviedo tomorrow and then head home Monday, maybe Tuesday!
September 15, 2017:
from Bill Welzien, Pastor, Keys OPC, Key West, Florida
Greetings in our Lord Jesus!
Thank you for your prayers and expressions of concern. We have been in Orlando for a full week now. The "we" I refer to is my wife Sessie and our two youngest children Billy (21) and Jane (19). Our ruling elder, Tim Warner is also with us. The Drew and Susan Coulter family have gone above and beyond the call of duty in showing hospitality (Romans 12:13)
We are still not allowed to go home. The road (US 1) is closed. This is the only road into and out of the Florida Keys! We are unsure when it will reopen. Maybe early next week.
Our eldest son David stayed for Irma. By God's grace he survived. Moments ago he called and gave us a report on our house. David lives in Key West and we live 19 miles from him. He has only a bicycle and no car so we were surprised to get his call. Earlier, I called him on a lark and to my surprise he answered his cell phone. As of this morning, in his area of Key West he has cell use and his electric has been restored. He has water for about two hours each day. This water is not potable. It must be boiled before drinking.
He walked around our home and then took us on a phone tour through each room. The report was most encouraging as the damage seemed to be minimal. David went from room to room and reported no apparent water damage.
We lost some siding and the trees that did fall fell away from our house. We may have a broken water line but since no water is running yet, we really don't know. Thankfully, we thought to turn the water off before we departed.
He said all the trees and plants were down and/or brown. That is the case throughout our area!
Our church facility is standing but no one has been inside to give a report.
Every day we learn something new. Each day brings a report of more progress.
We are thankful we had a few opportunities to assist people affected by the storm in this area. We look forward to being a blessing to those in our home mission field of the Lower Keys.
Please pray we use our remaining days here in Orlando usefully and that the Lord would prepare us for what is before us on our return.
Thank you so much for your concern your expressions of concern and your heartfelt prayers!
Be encouraged, Jesus Is Lord!!