Galveston hospital flooded by Hurricane Ike cuts 3800 staff

Flooding at UTMB after Hurricane IkeIke

Galveston, TEXAS –

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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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Ontario Stages Largest Ever Emergency Exercise

Andy Heads to Thunder Bay with Emergency Disaster Services Team

Before heading back to Texas with a small Project417 team to help with the Hurricane Ike recovery in San Leon, Galveston County, I have one stop to make – Thunder Bay in Northern Ontario. It’s almost as far north from Toronto as Texas is south. I’ll be driving one of the vans for the Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services response team, including several members who also were in Texas last month. It should prove to be a challenging test of our disaster preparedness. Disaster teams helping with the exercise will include the Canadian Armed Forces, O.P.P., local police and fire-fighters, Red Cross, St. Johns Ambulance, Salvation Army, etc. We’ll be staying at the local armoury and primarily involved in food preparation and distribution to both emergency responders and the mock disaster victims. We leave Monday early for a 15 hour drive and return the next Monday, Nov. 24th.  See you then…with more photos. Here’s the news release.

TORONTO, Nov. 10 /CNW/ – NEWS
Ontario will test its ability to respond to a disaster by participating in the largest emergency response exercise held in recent history. Exercise Trillium Response will involve all levels of government and will
simulate a massive ice storm in the northwestern area of the province, similar in scope to the one that devastated eastern Ontario and Québec in 1998. The exercise will take place in Thunder Bay and area between November 17 and 23. More than 1,500 participants from the Ontario and Canadian government,
25 municipalities and three First Nations communities, the province of Manitoba and non-government organizations, will participate. A fleet of specialized equipment and tactical teams will be deployed…

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Hurricane Ike – Volunteer Trip – Texas Recovery

Volunteers needed – Going to San Leon, Galveston County, Texas

Time and Place: still tentative

Starting: 10 to 14 days duration between Friday, November 14, 2008 and Sunday, Jan 14, 2009

Location: Texas – Houston, Pasadena, Galveston County, Seabrook, Kemah, Bacliff, San Leon

Contact Info: This is a Facebook event, visit the Project417 page on Facebook, or leave a comment here.

Description: Project417 is returning to Texas to help with Hurricane Ike Recovery. We have a tentative location in Galveston County – San, Leon, Texas, where I was doing disaster relief at the San Leon Community Church Community Relief Center set up there. The work will most likely consist of property clean-up of hurricane debris, help re-building and repairing homes damaged by the storm, helping at the local disaster relief and recovery center, visiting families recovering from the storm.

Dates are still flexible, we had been hoping to go Nov. 14th, but more volunteers needed, a team of six or seven would be great – we have three so far. We’d like to get down before Christmas but are flexible [ the folks there need help NOW ] Duration of the stay will be 10 days to two weeks. Approx cost per person, includes return flight, van/bus rental: CDN$800 — Accomodation is tentatively free at a local church or volunteer camp, meals extra so far.

More details to come – check the event for more updates

22 photos

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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Thousands a day seeking meals from Salvation Army in Galveston County

Galveston County Daily News, Oct. 6, 2008 GALVESTON: Tracy Czajkowski, a captain in the Salvation Army, said she and other volunteers from across the country hope to be the “shock absorbers” for Galveston residents who lost everything during the storm. Relief workers and volunteers, have gone from one disaster zone to another. At each place, workers have been greeted by people clinging to the end of their rope. [ end of excerpt ]

Andy and Karyl on the canteen

Andy and Karyl on the canteen

Over on the mainland in Galveston County, I am serving meals in devastated San Leon, Texas. The Pasadena Command of the Salvation Army is now focusing its mobile canteen service on the southern areas of the coastal area hit by Hurricane Ike. San Leon has had two canteens assigned for a total of over two thousand people served hot meals each day, and each day the food often runs out prompting the Emotional and Spiritual Care teams to call for even more support. The main mobile kitchen in Seabrook, staffed by Southern Baptist volunteers, that cook all the meals for the canteens prepare about 6,500 meals a day. Our canteen travels there twice a day to pick up the food and restock with water, ice, Gator Aid and snacks. It’s expected that mobile kitchen will re-locate south across the causeway into the coastal town of Kemah, more central to our relief efforts now that life is becoming more normalized in Houston County.

Today will be my last day onsite of the trip, but I look forward to returning soon to help the folks in San Leon and Galveston. I’ve given thought to changing the New Orleans short term mission in November to Galveston County and the people of San Leon. They all need help gutting out flood ravaged homes. Many are being bulldozed due to structural damage and will have to be rebuilt from scratch. Thanks for all your support and consider donating to help the poor people who have no homes and little that we all take for granted.
~~~
Andy Coats

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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.

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