Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas on Aug. 25, causing record breaking floods and leaving many without homes.
James Godfrey, a 37-year old Stocktonian watched the events unfold through videos on Facebook during his lunch break at Togo’s in Sacramento, when he then made the decision to go to Texas and lend a helping hand.
“I ran across a story about the cop who died,” said Godfrey, “A cop died on his way to work one day, took the long way to work so that he’d get there safely and his car was swept away. He took a wrong turn,” he said.
This story is what pushed Godfrey to load up a semi truck with supplies and drive to Texas to help those in need.
Food, water, clothes and various other supplies were donated to Godfrey for him to take to Texas.
Godfrey was joined by ten other people from his church, one of them being 37 year old David Cicileo, pastor at Gravity Church and Executive Director of a non-profit organization called Restore Stockton.
“What we do every day is help people,” said Cicileo, “we do mentoring programs with ‘at risk youth’ and work with families here in the downtown area.”
Cicileo drove a semi truck with around a hundred-thousand pounds worth of food, clothes and cleaning supplies.
“We had enough stuff to fill two semis,” said Godfrey, “but we only had enough cash to rent one.”
Along with the one semi, Godfrey and those who joined him also took a one ton van, a 20 foot trailer, Godfreys truck and a 10 foot trailer to Texas.
And even with all of that transportation, Godfrey and those who tagged along had to leave behind about 8 pallets of supplies.
The trip was about eight days long, with around 90 hours of driving and 36 hours of manual labor in the middle, according to Cicileo.
“When I first got out of the car, when we landed in that community, the smell in the air was so rancid that it stung your eyes and burned your nose,” Cicileo said. “It literally smelled like death.”
Godfrey and his group spent three and a half days distributing clothes and supplies to those in neighborhoods severely affected by the storm.
“We didn’t know what we were going to do,” Cicileo said, “we just knew that there were people that were hungry and had no food.”
Soon after arriving in Texas, the group found a non profit local ministry that, like Gravity Chruch, helped those in inner cities.
“Sure enough, when we got there they said ‘We’ve got to take you to this neighborhood. FEMA hasn’t been there, no help has been there, no support has been there and they are desperate for any help they can get,’” Cicileo continued.
After unloading supplies from the semi at a resource center, the group loaded up the trailers with food and water and headed to the neighborhood.
“We went door to door handing out food and water, cleaning supplies, diapers and prayed with people,” Godfrey said.
Godfrey and his group also helped repair a house for a family by sheet rocking their house and putting new electrical installation in the outside walls.
The group saw a lot of people whose lives had been severely impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Cicileo remembers a few of these people.
“We realized instantly that what we were walking into was way bigger than we ever realized.” Cicileo said, “There were people that were desperate, that were in despair, that were ready to end their lives.
And literally just being there and speaking life, encouraging them and bringing hope, I believe it saved people’s lives in the aftermath.”
Despite the group’s efforts, Cicileo feels that no matter how much they did, it wasn’t enough and that the people affected by the hurricane need more help and support.
This is why Godfrey and Cicileo are raising money to go back to Texas in November.
“We’re committed to raising a million dollars worth of support and relief to take back to Huston,” said Cicileo, “We’re hoping that we’ll get enough donations to go back and maybe do five houses this time.”