Talula’s Barefoot Books Blog

A running commentary on life as an online bookstore owner after 25 years in Early Childhood Education.

Update on Progress after Hurricane Ike – Nov. 2008

Posted by Talula on November 13, 2008


I noticed that quite a few folks have searched for progress reports on our recovery from the hurricane Ike damage around here. So in the interest of my readers requests; here is a short recap of recent news.

FEMA: Weeeelllll— even with all the official gov. folks saying how much the Office of Homeland Security has improved the administration of this ‘Disaster Recovery’ agency — approximately 2 months after the disaster — and contrary to their own estimates of ‘greatness’ — only about 10% of their promised aid has arrived in the area to help actual victim’s of the storm.    Examples: contractor’s aren’t being paid for work done to remove debri, hotels are beng told to shut off rental aid to folks who are still eligible and who have no place else to go, almost daily announcements are made in the local press about changes to deadlines from FEMA, confusion reigns at every step, and many people are still without homes/ transportation/ schools/ daycare/ jobs/ and regular public services like utilities & medical care.  

San Leon: While most buildings were heavily damaged or destroyed in this tiny blue-collar town; there is some good news in their struggle to re-build their community. A wonderfully generous town in upstate New York has donated a working firetruck to the San Leon Volunteer Fire Department to help them out, since all the equipment was lost when about six foot of seawater flooded the San Leon trucks. Then the miracle was increased when a generous benefactor paid to ship the donated Fire truck from New York & paid for the trucker’s salary to boot.

Galveston Island: Some schools have re-opened, but not the majority. Many apartment houses are still not in habitable condition, and FEMA has brought in only a handful of the trailers/mobile homes which were promised to be placed in survivor’s driveways – so they could stay onsite to re-build their homes themselves or at least oversee the contractors doing the work. The older downtown area of boutiques & tourist shops & small businesses called “The Strand” are having a very tough time trying to recover, some say they will not be able to re-build – while others vow to wash off and reopen intime for the holiday tourist extravaganza “Dickens On The Strand”. The University of Texas Medical School has re-opened the hospital in a very limited basis and re-opened the medical school classes; with an operating room & intensive care unit located on a medical ship floating in the Gulf of Mexico, accessed by helocopter. However the ghost of the  devastated economy is lurking in the battle going on over the complete shutdown or at least drastic down-sizing of the UTMB presence on the island ( they support the local economy with about 4,000 jobs) due to the enormous damage to its facilities. Very little re-building has begun yet on the annialated Crystal Beach community. Folks are still missing from some of the 90% of those homes that were washed away. Returning family members still search daily for  buried pieces of their former beach life there. 

Bolivar Peninsula:  Red Oak, Bolivar, High Island, and more — Completely devastated towns, communities and people. While some “only” lost 47% of their physical structures/buidings, many were hardworking ‘sea-towns’ and have multi-generations of individual families have lost their livelihoods & homes at the same time. I cried last Sunday while reading the story of 2 of those families; one sleeping in a tugboat (used as an office during the day) loaned to them by his boss and trying to support the company with only one boat going out for work each day. The wife sits on the concrete slab of their former rented home without protection from the weather during the day (while caring for an infant grandchild). The other family stayed in a borrowed RV for a month; but has now had to give it back to his boss. They sleep in a tent on the slab of their former home, also caring for a toddler grandchild, while constantly calling for info to FEMA, HUD, Red Cross, Texas organizations and other non-profit organizations to try to speed up the inspection and electrical hook-ups for a mobile home that FEMA delivered but locked up to keep them out until it is “officially inspected”.  Look people – the fall weather is getting colder and nastier — these survivors will soon catch flu, pnuemonia or other illnesses from living out in the open and they will have no place to go for medical care/no transportation to get there/ no maney to pay for it/ and no home to recover in once (and IF they get medicine)! All because of “official” Red Tape!!!!!

I can’t recall all the asinine behavior that has been reported to have been done by our government officials at the moment; but let this list serve to give you a snap-shot of our recovery. Yes there has been a Herculean effort by some in our area to support some victims, return the 5 million population to the electrical grid and clean the debri from the millions of downed trees, etc.

At this point in time; I would just like to know when?  we gave the job of rescue & recovery of tax-paying citizens after disasters to charitable organizations, and why does our BY-THE-PEOPLE / FOR THE PEOPLE U.S. government not handle the administration and functions as it was designed to do by those we elect to serve us?

Please lend your moments of prayer to add a plea for help to go out to these hard-working neighbors and their children here on the Gulf Coast shores; and if you are in a position to actually help (whether it is monetary donations or to help replace lost food, coats, or personal items) please just pick up the Houston Chronicle and find a story or phone number to help SOMEONE who is caught in this bureaucratic nightmare!

And YES!, I have seen many folks & organizations who have done many wonderful & individual things to help! I applaud all of them without reserve! Neighbors helping neighbors has been a beautiful sight; but so much more has to be done in the areas where whole towns are totally disrupted and there truly is no longer any semblance of “NORMAL” for these citizens of the wealthiest nation on earth.

Allright, I now jump down from my soapbox! Sorry -but un-necessary human suffering always gets my blood boiling! I will try to help where and when I am able; while I pray that many others will come to their rescue!


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