What has struck the McAllen Seven as we visit the city is the faith of the people here--with circus tents set up outside many churches, or where church buildings once stood. The tents are not revival tents, they're for feeding, the body more than the soul with free meals, clothing give-aways, etc.
A local Church of God community teamed with folks from Dallas on Saturday for a backpack/school supply/snow-cone give-away.
The city's marquees and storefront and car windows are filled with notes of thanks, calls for prayer, and signs of hope. "We will rebuild." (But just in case, a little west of the city a red-blooded American Christian posted "If you are a looter, you will be shot.")
Flags, some new, some wind-blown and tattered are displayed in homes, stores, on poles, and fences and down Main Street downtown.
Many of the city's "local" restaurants have been wiped out, but two that remain are Granny Shaffer's (with a blue chicken logo and juicy fried chicken and sweet strawberry rhubarb pie) and The Red Onion--a completely tasty sit-down place verging on fancy, but without the fancy prices.
The city and school district strive to keep a list of volunteers, for logistics and grants purposes. Sure enough, the t-shirt is in. Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, and folks from around the rest of the country and state have swamped the community with compassion and aide. The need here was big and America responded in big ways. Mayor Mike Woolston made it very clear, as have the educators with whome we've chatted: they couldn't have done it without volunteers and donations.
Construction and infrastructure workers--even some we ran into from the Rio Grande Valley--and volunteers keep hotels and restaurants filled--as witnessed also by the many "now hiring" signs outside stores and restaurants. The need will only increase, I presume, as many college kids head back to school in the coming days and with no slow-down in the immediate future in the influx of construction workers.
Homes need building and renovating, and it must be done before winter. Television and roadside advertisements displayed on parked tour buses, backs of trailers and homemade signs boast 30-and 60-day construction completion (often from "kits") of houses.
The need of the people here is great, but their faith in God is even greater.