WASHINGTON -- Ascension Parish in Bastrop, Texas, has been serving as a shelter and a nerve center for relief efforts related to the ongoing Texas wildfires that have struck the state.
As of Sept. 7, wildfires had been recorded for 296 straight days in drought-stricken Texas. But in the recent surge of such blazes in early September, more than 1,000 homes in the state had been destroyed and four deaths were attributed to the fires.
"We're not turning anybody away," said Steve Venzon, one of four Ascension parishioners who are taking daily six-hour shifts in directing aid efforts at the church. The town of Bastrop and Bastrop County are in the heart of the fire zone in the 25-county Diocese of Austin, Texas.
Ascension started housing its first evacuees Sept. 4 but quickly filled up its parish hall. Evacuees moved to the parish's religious education building, where 50 people were staying, Venzon told Catholic News Service in a Sept. 7 telephone interview.