FEMA Relief in Texas Thousands Waiting to Rebuild after Ike

Source NYTimes.com  – A letter To the Editor: from FEMA about housing relief efforts following Hurricane Ike.

Hurricane Ike damaged home in San Leon, Galveston County, Texas

Hurricane Ike damaged home in San Leon, Galveston County, Texas

Approximately 22,000 people displaced by Hurricane Ike sought and found FEMA shelter assistance. FEMA  …has reimbursed them for expenses they may have incurred. This reimbursement program was scheduled to end last week, but was extended when it became clear that repairs and clearances for some homes would be delayed. FEMA is judging extensions on a case-by-case basis. Some could stretch into next year. – quoting Jonathan F. Thompson, Director of External Affairs, FEMA”.

Andy Coats and Project417, who partnered with the Salvation Army and San Leon Community Disaster Relief for two weeks at the end of September, is retruning to San Leon with volunteer teams to help with the re-building. Many of the poorer residents of San Leon are stuck in a Catch 22 situation with repsect to their FEMA claims. Although they qualify for FEMA assistance grants to re-build their homes, the FEMA aid is dependant on the house foundations being raised at least eight feet above flood plain levels. In the case of one family Andy helped in San Leon, while the FEMA grant exceeds $25,000 – sufficient to repair the storm surge submerged home – it does not cover the cost of raising the home foundation the required height on pillars to be safe from future storm surges. As a result, no insurance company will issue a policy, and no mortgage can be issued without insurance. The result is three fold, FEMA will not pay the money without insurance on the home. The family can not afford the extensive repairs, and the home can not be sold, because no purchaser would receive a mortgage without the insurance.

Project417 is seeking donations to adopt Texas families in similar situations, assist in the rebuilding to FEMA standards, and to raise volunteer teams to take part in re-building to reduce overall construction costs. Check back to the blog pages here for updates on the next planned volunteer trips in December and January.  Share this page with your friendsDigg the story, and share it on Facebook.

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Galveston hospital flooded by Hurricane Ike cuts 3800 staff

Flooding at UTMB after Hurricane IkeIke

Galveston, TEXAS –

[/source]

Still struggling to recover from Hurricane Ike, the battered economy of Galveston Island has suffered another severe blow with the decision by the University of Texas to lay off 3,800 people next week from the medical center, the largest employer on the island. [end of excerpt]

If you’ve been following the Project417 Hurricane Ike Relief updates here, you know we have another trip planned soon to return to Galveston County to help with the recovery efforts.  Many people have asked me, “What’s it like down there Andy?”, or have commented something like, “it’s lucky the U.S. is such a wealthy developed country, they can take care of their own after a disaster”.

Galveston University of Texas Medical Branch during the hurricane

Galveston University of Texas Medical Branch during the hurricane

I hope some of these photos from the University of Texas Medical Center at Galveston, will give you some perspective on the scope of the hurricane damage in Texas – specifically in Galveston County and Galveston Island.  How soon do you think Toronto General or Sick Kids would be business as normal following flooding on this scale?

How would the economy of Mississauga be affected by the lay-off of over three thousand people at Trillium or Credit Valley Hospital?

The re-building and recovery efforts in Galveston are a huge undertaking – and for the ordinary family, there is no insurance coverage to replace their homes. Often the FEMA grants available will cover only a small percentage of the costs needed to re-build a damaged or destroyed home. Then there are all the other costs like temporary housing, job loss due to business closures, replacing entire contents submerged by the flood: Fridge, stove, washer, dryer, beds, furniture, clothing, computers, A/C, TV’s and stereos – all your worldly possessions. The efforts of volunteers, to help with a multitude of tasks related to re-building, repair and renovation, are priceless, and often are the only means of less affluent families to even begin the recovery process.

We're collecting money for this Galveston County family to help rebuild their home.

We're collecting money for this Galveston County family to help rebuild their home.

So join us for the next trip, contact us here by posting a comment. Consider making a donation to cover the cost of the trip and the purchase of tools and building materials from local suppliers in Texas to be donated to the families most in need.

Support Project417, help the homeless Hurricane Ike victims, make a differenc

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Hurricane Ike Photos – Texas Disaster Relief – Galveston Cty

The aftermath of Hurricane Ike – most of the photos taken by me volunteering with Project417 and the Salvation Army from Sept. 26th to October 9th, 2008. Location: Texas – Houston, Pasadena, Galveston County, Seabrook, Kemah, Bacliff, San Leon. So many of them remind me of working in the Lower Ninth – New Orleans after Katrina.

Please Volunteer!

See the photos on Facebook – click “read more

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Hurricane Ike Volunteer Relief in San Leon, Galveston County

Project417 Hurricane Ike Relief Update – October 16th, 2008
Hello Project417 supporters. As you know I just returned for a short term mission trip to Texas to help out the survivors of Hurricane Ike in Texas. I was a volunteer with the Houston Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services and served in the Houston Gulf Coast region – Pasadena and San Leon Texas, from Sept. 25th to October 10th.

The damage in coastal Texas is very severe. The devastation and aftermath I witnessed are equal and sometimes worse than the damage from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The media in the U.S. have had a difficult time getting the news out, being overshadowed by the election and economic meltdown. Notwithstanding, the people of Texas need our help. Especially the town of San Leon, Texas where I served. I also heard from other members of the team stationed in Galveston that the damage is in some cases unimaginable. One Army Corps of Engineers specialist I spoke with compared the damage there as equal to what Katrina visited on Biloxi, Mississippi – the storm surge has wiped the coast clean in many areas, only slab foundations left.


After three days helping at the Salvation Army Incident Command Center in Pasadena, I was assigned to help with three other people from Mississippi and Virginia, on a mobile canteen truck serving hot meals. I served about twelve hundred meals a day to the people of San Leon, who still had no electricity, and in many cases no homes, for a total of 12,000 meals for ten days. Our Pasadena group of five or six canteens served more than six thousand meals a day. There are multiple Incident commands in the Houston area, including Galveston and Louisiana, and the total number of meals served to Hurricanes Gustav and Ike survivors from Salvation Army canteens is more than 1.8 million. This is in addition to Red Cross canteens who also roam the area, as well as numerous church kitchens and independent relief organizations like the Southern Baptists and many others. The church has responded to the call for help.
I’ll certainly be posting more stories of perseverance and survival from the people of Texas. Project417 has decided to change our upcoming mission to New Orleans to focus on the urgent needs of San Leon Texas. Contact us here to join the team. San Leon is a poor town of about five thousand right on the coast. Their main industries – oyster harvesting, shrimp and crab fisheries have been almost wiped out. Their homes, mainly small wood frame “cottages” and trailers have been severely damaged or totally destroyed. Few have insurance and many will have difficulty collecting payments from FEMA.  A large percentage of the population is Vietnamese American and Hispanic. They were a joy to help, especially the children like Victor above and his sister Victoria, whose family of seven were sleeping in their Dad’s old Suburban in the driveway of their flooded out home. They slept in the car and started going to school every day just last week, and still they would come help us serve the meals to the thousands that visited the local disaster relief center established at the San Leon Community Church. I’m going back to help them, won’t you come too?
New photos and stories about Hurricane Ike disaster relief will be posted daily for the next few day, check back often.

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San Leon Hurricane Ike Survivors Glad to See Disaster Relief Workers

More updates on the mission log here.

UPDATE: Saturday, October 4th, 2008 –

I have been serving the residents of San Leon, Texas now all this week. We visit for several hours twice daily in one of the Salvation Army Mobile canteen trucks to serve fresh hot meals for lunch and dinner. We have averaged about 1,00 meals a day at the San Leon Community Disaster Relief Center at the site of a small Baptist church, along with Houston Food bank, the American Baptist Association and  local volunteers. Total meals served from our command center are over 6,500 a day all from mobile canteen crews like ours. Total for all the Louisiana and Texas disaster incident commands are more than 1.2 Million hot meals since relief efforst began a month ago, first for Gustav, then Ike.

The devastation of San Leon, just up the coast from Galveston, is equal or more severe than what I witnessed in New Orleans after Katrina in the Lower 9th Ward. There are thousands of residents whose homes were completely submerged by the 12 to 20 foot storm surge and battered by Hurricane Ikes category two winds. Even now, electrical power service has not been restored. There is no ice, clean water, local sources of food (the nearest supermarket open is more than 20km). Entire home contents have been lost. Most homes in San Leon were small and simple, many were trailer homes and wood frame houses. Lives have been lost. We pray for them all.for The majority of residents in San Leon are Vietnamese America, and Hispanic. Most don’t have insurance and no FEMA cash support has been received yet.  Many families with young children are sleeping in their cars outside their gutted homes. Some were homeless and living rough before the storm and now are severely at risk having lost even their open air campsites and squats and what few belongings they had.

These photos from Sanleontexas.com (maintained by a colourful local resident) are only a few showing both the destruction and the will to survive and overcome. I’ll be posting many more of mine when I have a more reliable internet connection showing the volunteers and residents working together.

These people really need your help, consider  making a generous donation today. Contact me here by submitting a comment to the post if you have any questions.

Pasadena Texas residents tell stories of Hurricane Ike damage and recovery

The Citizen, a Pasadena Texas newspaper online. Volunteer appreciation stories and residents tell of weathering Hurricane Ike and clean-up recovery in their own photos.

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Andy Coats of Project417 arrived at the Pasadena Salvation Army late Friday to help out local residents slammed by Ike, many still without power 2 weeks after Ike. They have been providing hot meals to locals and dispatching canteens to service a wider area- Galveston, Seabrook and Beaumont. More than 1.8 million meals have been served since the storm.

Today the existing mobile kitchen operated in partnership with Southern Baptist volunteers was being dismantled (12 fifty-three foot trailers) and moved to Seabrook, so the Pasadena EDS Incident Commander, Salvation Army Captain Edward Alonzo volunteered his church and community center, located on Cherry Brook Lane, to take over the cooking that replenishes the canteens. (this is also the site of the EDS Incident Command) I’d already told the Captain I was willing to cook anytime so, even though I’d been planning to do canteen duty in Galveston, Captain Alonzo appealed to me for help. Sure, I said, I can cook… Umm, How many are we talking? 600 the captain said (I didn’t blink- note to self: take up poker). Turns out after speaking with Cedric, the officer responsible for the canteens, it would be 600 meals per canteen.

OK grabbed a calculator and did the math. 4 canteen trucks- 600 lunches and 600 suppers. That. Is. Four. Thousand. Eight Hundred. Meals. So, I’ll be having a busy day tomorrow. Stay tuned. By the way, you can reach me on my cell while I’m here 1+832-472-8421.

Onsite with Hurricane Ike – Emergency Disaster Services Houston – Project417

Update:Hurricane Ike Disaster Relief

As of 4AM today (Sept. 26th) Andy Coats of Project417 is flying down to Houston as a member of the first Canadian Emergency Disaster Services team of the Salvation Army. There is a team of 10 in total for the first responders, and the assignment will last until October 9th, 2008. At that time the second team will come down to relieve us (although I’m prepared to stay longer.

Setting up the EDS Warehouse in Gretna

Setting up the EDS Warehouse in Gretna

My assignment, with colleagues from Canada, is with the Salvation Army EDS in Houston, for distribution of food and emergency supplies to victims, EDS teams and emergency service personnel: hot meals, water, MRE’s, med kits, clean-up kits, personal hygiene items,  snacks, food boxes and other donated items for victims. Other team members will be on mobile canteen duty, crisis intervention counselling (CISM), grief counselling and spiritual support.

During the time there I will also meet with the Houston CSM city leader to assess the damage to their housing site and possible relief services for the next missions. There may be an opportunity to visit Galveston to survey the damage also – and a trip to New Orleans to arrange the November short-term mission details.

I may or may not have access to the internet, but if I do I will continue to post updates and photos or make arrangements for them to be posted on my behalf. Ditto with email, so don’t be concerned if you’re not hearing from me. You can always reach me on my cell phone – visit the Project417.com site for details.

If you need to contact me, please contact Rev. Joe Elkerton, Executive Director of Project417 email:  elkerton at project417 dot com.

Gutting Houses

Please consider making a donation today to help the Hurricane Ike victims in Texas (Galveston and Houston) and New Orleans, Louisiana – by making a secure online donation with PayPal to Project417 (a registered charity of: Ekklesia Inner City Ministries)

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