Thursday, September 18, 2008

In the Wake of Ike

Day 3
September 17, 2008

Rev. Randy Vaughn, left foreground, of Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church and volunteers from the church unload supplies from delivered by World Vision.World Vision’s assessment team spent over five hours traveling from Huntsville, Texas to the coastal town of Port Arthur, Texas. Under normal circumstances, this trip would take just under three hours. After many dead ends, low hanging power lines, and road closures due to flooding, the team finally arrived at Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church where they dropped off cleaning supplies, clothing, books, toys, and personal hygiene products for the church to distribute to those in need in the community.

Rev. Vaughn says that the members of the community will definitely be helped by the supplies. Port Arthur’s mayor, Deloris Prince says, “I think God sent you all here. You’re all a bunch of angels. I thank you so much on behalf of all the citizens whose lives are going to be affected by what you’ve brought.”

Hurricane Ike wiped out many buildings in the coastal town of Sabine Pass.Hurricane Ike battered Texas coastal community of Port Arthur and neighboring towns. Adam Saunders, a native of the small town, Sabine Pass, Texas, says that Hurricane Ike caused more damage for them than Hurricane Rita in 2005.

“With this storm, it was a small storm—not nearly as powerful [as Hurricane Rita]—we were just east of the storm, which is the worst place to be,” says Adam. “That means you’re getting all the flow of the water, tidal surge.” He explains that most of the damage done to Sabine Pass was caused by the tidal surge. “You had waves beating on the house for 12 hours and basically beating it to nothing.”

And when Adam returned to his house for the first time, that is exactly what he found—nothing. The house was completely gone. “The biggest piece of my house that I found was a 20x30 piece of the roof. That’s it.”

Adam Saunders takes his daughter, Olivia, to visit what used to be their home.Today he took his 10-year-old daughter, Olivia, to the home for the first time. She points out where her bedroom used to stand. “It makes me feel different,” she says of what she is seeing.

The assessment crew then headed back to Port Arthur. Rev. Vaughn drove them through the neighborhoods. He explained that this community was still struggling to recover from the effects of Hurricane Rita now they’ve been hit with this new disaster. “You see this blue on this house here,” he says, indicating shreds of blue tarp on a roof top. “That’s not new. That’s Rita damage.”

Back at Mt. Sinai, the assessment team learned that almost all the items they dropped off earlier in the day had been distributed in a little less than two hours. “It’s all gone,” say a couple of the volunteers. One man adds, “News travels fast.”

But for the Johnson family, the news did not arrive quite as quickly. They pull up in the church parking lot asking if there are still any supplies. The family of six with four children—all under 9 years of age—is staying in their home, which currently has no power. Delicia Johnson says, “We have no funds to get a hotel or anything like that. We basically just finally got some funds to get some gas. So everything we know about is at the last minute. That’s the hardest part.”

The Johnson family gets cleaning supplies at Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist church.The family’s home sustained wind damage and there still is water on one side of the house and even underneath part of the house. The family received cleaning supplies, mops, and brooms. Delicia says she appreciates that she get her home cleaned and prevent the spread of germs.

Tomorrow the team will visit with more churches in the Houston area where they will distribute more products and also determine how they can continue to help churches in the area during the rebuilding process.

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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