Monday, September 15, 2008

In the Wake of Ike

Day One
September 15, 2008

Hurricane Ike was as big as Texas. Phyllis Freeman, director of World Vision’s on-the-ground relief efforts, describes Hurricane Ike as "one of the most intimidating storms post-Katrina" that we have had. "The storm was so huge when you looked at it on a visual on the TV or the Internet. It filled up the entire gulf coast."

Members of a youth group volunteer creating hygiene kits for victims of Hurricane Ike.For people wanting to help the victims of Hurricane Ike, Phyllis says, "Volunteers are always really wonderful to have because we live and move by volunteers so we always need the extra hands."

Over the weekend and on Monday—working from eight in the morning to eight in the evening—volunteers were at World Vision’s Storehouse in Dallas packaging up kits that will be delivered to partners in areas hard-hit.
The kits include items such as shampoo, conditioner, lotion, body wash, and soap.

Volunteer Grady Venable shows a personal hygiene kit being created to send to victims of Hurricane Ike.Volunteer Grady Venable says, "I can help here ‘til I can go down there and help." He continues talking, never missing a beat packing up supplies.

"This is the least that anybody can do here just to make things ready to go down to the hurricane people so they can have things and supplies," he says. "Just giving of your time and your effort can really help people out down there."

Phyllis explains that the American Families Assistance Fund is a donation that allows World Vision to provide ongoing care for families in need—especially in time of disaster. "There’s many different types of assistance that would be a blessing to us to help us," she says.

World Vision employee, Pedro Escobar, wraps a pallete of provisions in preparation for transport to victims of Hurricane Ike.On Tuesday, a World Vision assessment group will load up a truck and head south to Austin, then hopefully head over toward the coast if the roads are passable. They will take with them personal hygiene kits.

"We are hoping to take 1000 units with us," says Phyllis. The team will also carry cleaning supplies, clothing, toys, and books. She describes the books and toys as "a comfort for children. Many of them, when they have to evacuate, they may be able to bring one toy sometimes no toys depending on how quickly you will have to leave your home. What we’ve found is that the children, if they can have something they’re familiar with, brand new toys bring joys. Books are wonderful. So it’s just for comfort of the children."

World Vision employee, Jeremy Wissink, readies supplies for transport to the Texas coast.World Vision has contacted five primary community partners throughout the state—mostly churches and community centers, which it hopes to set up as regional distribution sites for families as they return from where they are being sheltered. The assessment team hopes to be able to distribute supplies to these partners and perhaps establish some new partnerships as well.

The main goal of the assessment team, though, is to seek out people who might otherwise normally fall through the cracks at a time like this and help provide for their short and long-term needs as they begin the process of rebuilding their homes and their lives.

Posted by Laura Reinhardt and Tom Costanza on assignment in Texas. Tom is Video Creative Director for World Vision in the United States. Laura is Assignment Editor for World Vision in the United States .

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