'After Harvey, there were no walls of division': Katy pastor reflects on hurricane recovery

Rev. Jorge Cardenas has spent past year rebuilding church

KATY, Texas – The past year has not been an easy one for the Rev. Jorge Cardenas.

"I think I have aged about three years," Cardenas said. "If I look at the picture before and after Harvey, (it's) two different people."

Cardenas' home and the Church on the Rock in Katy both flooded in the days after Hurricane Harvey hit the coast, when water was released from the Addicks Reservoir.

"The moment I knew we were in deep, deep trouble was when there was an announcement made that there was a possibility of the release of the reservoir," Cardenas said. "My heart sunk at that moment."

Recovery work on the church and the school that the church houses began soon after the pastor was allowed back in the area. 

The past year has been challenging, but Cardenas has been overwhelmed with the amount of support he has received from the community. 

Volunteers helped clean the church. Strangers donated money. A neighboring church allowed Cardenas to hold services in their building until he could return to his own church.

"After Harvey, there were no walls of division," Cardenas said. "We're all in this together. No matter what color, no matter what religion, no matter what ethnic group you belong to, you all pitch in to help each other as neighbors."

Work on the church is almost complete, but the rebuilding process at the pastor's home has been more difficult.

"One of the saddest things that my wife and I dealt with was all the pictures that were lost," Cardenas said.

He relies on his faith to help push him forward, but he admits there are days when he feels exhausted.

"The stress is just sometimes indescribable," Cardenas said. "You build this fatigue after a while."

He sometimes struggles with guilt over the assistance he's received. He asks himself why he's received so much when others have not. Accepting help has not always been easy.

"We ended up on the receiving end, and that was uncomfortable to say the least," Cardenas said.

The pastor acknowledges that there have been moments of incredible frustration, but he believes overall the experience has been a beautiful one.

"I had a wonderful support system that God provided for us," Cardenas said. "I have not one complaint about that."

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