He’d take 40 inches of snow over the intense flooding plaguing Texas.
Tim Barnett is a pastor from Toronto who was in the Lone Star State earlier this month to preach at Praise Church in Beaumont. After days of teaching, it came time to head back to Canada — but Houston was being pummeled by flooding from tropical storm Imelda.
After being away from his wife and three daughters — ages 8, 6, and 3 — for a week, Barnett was eager to get back home, and Praise Church member Ken Wilgers (pictured above) was going to try his hardest to get him there.
Speaking to Faithwire over the phone this week, Barnett said he was prepared to drive his rental car from Beaumont to Houston last Thursday morning, until he got a call from Wilgers, who told Barnett he needed to leave his car at the hotel and wait for him to come and get him. Wilgers drives a massive truck with a lift kit.
Barnett, who thought Wilgers might have been overreacting just a little, begrudgingly agreed to leave his car behind at the hotel and await his friend’s arrival. It’s a good thing he did, because there’s no way his loaned car would’ve survived the trek to the airport.
Fields, Barnett recalled, had turned to lakes, and roads had become reservoirs filled with three to four feet of moving water. The three-hour trip to the airport in Houston had proved treacherous.
“Ken really wanted to get me home,” the 36-year-old minister said, but the further away from Beaumont they got, the murkier and deeper the water became. “[Y]ou could tell it was moving water. That was concerning as well, because it doesn’t take much moving water to pick a truck up and put it somewhere else.”
While Wilgers was “cool as a cucumber,” Barnett said his “nerves were shot.” Any experience that reminds us so poignantly of the fragility of our own humanity is sure to do just that.
They ultimately made it to the airport, much to the surprise of the staff there, many of whom had been told to go home because flights wouldn’t be going out that day. It was another 36 hours before Barnett boarded an airplane back to Toronto.
“I’ve never in my whole life experienced that kind of situation for that long period of time,” he explained. “[W]e were praying the whole way, ‘Just get us through this.’ That feeling of being completely at the mercy of the elements and God is kind of a humbling experience.”
Back in Canada, those who have suffered tragic loss as a result of the flooding in Texas have been on Barnett’s mind.
Their resiliency in the face of losing so much, Barnett said, has been truly inspiring. “I don’t know how I would react,” he added. Watching from afar, Barnett noted he’s been moved by the way so many have turned horror into an opportunity “to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”
“I think I’ve been more blessed just following these families and how they’re responding to tragedy,” the pastor said. “Because I wonder myself, ‘How would I react?’ And I hope it’s how some of these families are reacting.”
Please continue to pray for those in Texas recovering from the historic flooding. To date, there have been five deaths linked to the tropical storm.