Hurricane Ike Update

October 23, 2008

Recently I had the opportunity to travel to Texas and look at damage from Hurricane Ike in the Houston, Galveston and Port Arthur areas. Florence Coppola, Executive for National Disaster Ministries and I visited and met with people in each area to look at ways to assist those affected by the hurricane. Galveston Island looks like New Orleans did after Hurricane Katrina. The low lying portions of the island had about eight feet of water in a storm surge. There is little power, because wiring needs to be replaced in homes. There are piles of debris curbside where people have begun the clean up process. There are boats on dry land, traffic signals not working, stores not open and a variety of traffic, residents, workers and the curious.

On the mainland in Texas City, we visited with the pastor of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ. That church received wind and water damage but is in decent shape. The church's classroom wing can be used to house work groups.  There needs to be remodeling done so it will be a few months before the church is ready to accept groups and before work projects are able to be identified in Galveston through the Long Term Recovery Organization.

In the Port Arthur - Bridge City area we met with individuals from SETIO (Southeast Texas Interfaith Organization).  SETIO was organized after Hurricane Rita in 2005 to assist people with their recovery. SETIO was planning to finish their work in the late spring of 2009 until Hurricane Ike hit. Now they will be there for a longer period of time. Since they are already in existence, have group housing and staff in place they are able to accept work groups to assist immediately.

The United Church of Christ does not have churches in either of these locations. The Disciples of Christ have two churches on Galveston Island and several in the Port Arthur area. The United Church of Christ will work with the ecumenical effort in both areas. With SETIO it will work rather well. The UCC website will direct interested parties to them and arrangements will be made directly with SETIO.

In Galveston, this will be a new venture, the United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ Disaster Response offices working together. The United Church of Christ will dedicate some funds towards the remodeling of the church facility in order for it house groups. Both denominations will work together on how best to coordinate efforts. There may also be a Partner in Service long term volunteer opportunity available in Galveston. Rev. Alan Coe

The photo to the left was taken on Galveston Island after Hurricane Ike. This building is typical of the damage from the storm surge of the storm and its aftermath. Things to notice: Most obvious is the boat is not where it should be. The other noticeable feature is the dead shrubs. What you don't see are the lack of electricity, piles of debris lining the streets and the look of despair on people's faces as they sort out their lives.

Two vital ways to assist are financial contributions and work trips to affected areas. To find out how to help log onto: ><.  Please, your assistance is greatly appreciated. On behalf of people affected by storms and disasters of 2008, Thank you.

Rebuilding Homes, Rebuilding Hope

Submitted by:  South Central Conference Disaster Ministry

Rev. Alan Coe - Minister for Disaster Recovery
Sarah McAllister - Volunteer Coordinator/Case Manager
Tim Fonderlin - Construction Supervisor