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Updates and requests for help following Hurricane Ike’s hit on the Gulf Coast

(UPDATED 9-29-08) — Individuals and relief agencies continue to help with clean up and rebuilding efforts in areas hit hardest by Ike. Here are some reports we have received in recent days:
* Disaster Assistance is working in the Lake Jackson, Texas, area, said Mike Baumgartner. The agency will begin serving meals on Sept. 24 for workers in the Surfside community and families who can’t leave, Baumgartner said.
Supply distribution is planned from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily at the Lake Jackson church building, he said. Clean-up crews will fan out across Surfside, Freeport and Lake Jackson to offer help, and many will lead or participate in worship on the Sundays in these communities.
“We have very, very much going on,” Baumgartner said, “especially for an area that some said needed no help.”
To volunteer or give through Disaster Assistance, visit the organization’s Web site.
* Churches of Christ Disaster Response Team is focusing its efforts in Texas on the communities of Orange, Beaumont and Bridge City, said Laura Cremans, who with her husband, Mark, oversees the ministry.
“There are many of our brothers and sisters as well as those we need to reach out to in the communities who need our help,” Laura Cremeans said. “Many have no insurance and have lost their houses, cars, household belongings, clothing, shoes, the children have lost their toys, their books… and on top of this many have now lost their jobs.”
The Cremeans invite church members to help them provide housing, food and immediate assistance to those affected in these areas. For more information, see their Web site.
* Fred Franke with Operation Nehemiah said he has traveled across the southern-most parishes of Louisiana and met with several church members who experienced severe damage from the last two hurricanes. Operation Nehemiah has helped with distribution of food and other relief, Franke said.
“Although New Orleans dodged two serious bullets (Gustav and Ike), our southernmost parishes were struck hard…very hard,” Franke said. “Many areas are under States of Emergency.
In Terrebonne parish, more than 15,000 homes are still under water, while in Cameron Parish, 3,000 homes are flooded, he said. In Jefferson Parish, 2,000 homes are under water. In Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John, Tangipahoa, and St. Tammany Parishes, homes were flooded.
“We need immediate volunteers, immediate funds, to help these folks,” Franke said. Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Franke said Operation Nehemiah has hosted more than 400 mission trips, where 15,000 volunteers have gutted out more than 3,000 homes. The organization provides opportunities for groups of up to 500 at a time to work in south Louisiana with housing and meals provided.
* Members of the Broadway church in Galveston are planning to return to the island once checkpoints are opened to all island residents on Sept. 24, said minister Allen Isbell. Work to repair the church building, which was flooded with 5 feet of water when Ike made landfall, will begin soon after, as will efforts to help gut and clean homes.
Those who would like to directly help those in Galveston may send donations to the Broadway church, PO Box 3835, Galveston, TX 77552.
* The Clear Lake church in Houston was heavily damaged by Ike, said preaching minister Byron Fike, and its members have formed teams to best meet the needs of the surrounding community. Chain-saw crews were out in the earliest hours after the storm passed, and others have distributed food, generators, gasoline and other supplies. The congregation is preparing to house volunteers for several weeks after the storm to assist those near the building in rebuilding, Fike said.
To help financially, send funds to Clear Lake Church of Christ, c/o David Layman, 938 El Dorado, Houston, TX 77062.
* Barry Jones, minister of the 9th and Elm church in Orange, Texas, said two congregations are in need of immediate help.
The 9th and Elm church, which has 150 members, reports that one-third of its families’ homes need to be “gutted” so that they can dry out.
The Bridge City, Texas, church has requested help for its 80-90 members, all of whose homes have been devastated, Jones said.
The 9th and Elm church’s elders have opened the congregation as a distribution point for the area, Jones said. “This is one of the areas that is not receiving much attention and has great need.”
To help, contact Jones at (409) 920-0667.
* Greg Stirman, an elder at the First Colony church in Sugar Land, Texas, is helping organize relief for that area through Second Mile Missions. Contact (281) 271-9199 ext. 231 or (713) 824-8656 for more information.
* Lifeline Chaplaincy has canceled its 35th Anniversary Gala Dinner due to the devastation of Ike and the calls for help. See the organization’s Web site for more information.
* Rachel Matthys, director of development at Cornerstone Christian Academy in Sugar Land, Texas, said the school was mostly unscathed by Ike.
“Over all, God covered us with His mighty hand and protected our facility, our staff and our families from harm,” Matthys said. “We continue to pray for those who lost much–some lost everything–and hope for opportunities to share God’s unfailing love and abundant grace for every moment.”
* Westbury Christian School in Houston endured landscape-type damage from Ike as staff members pulled food from the cafeteria’s refrigerators to feed those in the community who lost power, spokeswoman Catherine TInkler said.
Paul Arnold, the school’s director of facilities, lives in an apartment complex near the campus and helped other Westbury staff members take food to area residents.
During the days school was cancelled because of the power outage that followed the storm, students were asked to volunteer their time and energy in the surrounding community, said Greg Glenn, executive administrator.
“Students can learn about life in a different way by giving back to the community,” he said.
Though classes were dismissed for nine days following Ike, Glenn said the time was put to good use; nearly 150 students and staff members volunteered one day at the Houston Food Bank.

Filed under: Staff Reports Top Stories

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