Sunday, September 14, 2008

FEMA Struggles With Getting Supplies to Ike's Victims in Texas

Federal Emergency Management Agency struggled today to move supplies to distribution centers throughout Houston as nearly 5 million people across southeast Texas continued to live without power and access to clean drinking water, the Houston Chronicle reported today.

Carolyn Feibel, Ruth Rendon, Bradley Olson and Mark Babineck of the Chronicle filed this report:

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said 40 trucks of water and 40 trucks of meals would be delivered to Reliant Stadium by the end of the day.

Chertoff also alluded to the grim task of rescue workers who had fanned out across Galveston and other low-lying areas that had been devastated by flooding, declining to provide an official body count but hinting that numbers would continue to rise. About 2,000 rescues had been made over the weekend, an extraordinary number that still fell far short of the estimated 140,000 people under mandatory evacuation that did not leave their homes.

"As we get into areas where there may have been a lot of damage, there may be some unpleasant surprises we may find," he said.

The Austin American-Statesman has a video report of the devastation in San Leon.

Rerryn Keys, writing for the Beaumont Enterprise, notes that residents there should prepare for weeks of hardships as that area recovers from the storm.

Across the region, from Winnie to Orange, all points beyond and all points in between, city officials have warned that the next few days and weeks will require a mental hard hat, plenty of patience and plenty more than that.

To be sure, officials said, this is no festival. Hurricane Ike, and its aftermath, is as serious as a natural disaster can be.

This is also no time to be a backyard hero, they’ve said. This is either a time to get the heck out, or buckle up and be over-prepared. Many folks have heeded the warnings. Many have not.

Sunday afternoon in south Beaumont, just down the road from South Park and Lamar University, the Farah Village apartments looked more like a block party than a block of despair.

“All the money we had, we spent running from Gustav,” said Wyn Abeasi, a native of Atlanta who came here last year for work in a local refinery.

“It’s hot. You’ve got kids here, 1 or 2 years old. It ain’t no fun. … But we’ll be all right. As long as we’ve got God on our side, we’ll be all right.”

So the not-so-fun party kept going. The radio blasted New Edition and Babyface.

Budweiser bottles went from full to empty at a brisk pace. Flames flickered up from the grill, which cooked chicken that had to be cooked -- immediately, lest the meat go bad.
It looked like fun for the dozen or so residents. It was. But it wasn’t.

“People drive by and think this is a hurricane party,” John Hamilton, 36, said with a grin. “This ain’t no party. We’re just surviving.”

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