A conference call was held Tuesday, September 16, with PDA, leadership of Synod of the Sun and leadership of affected presbyteries within the synod, to determine the current situation and an appropriate response. Appreciation was expressed that the synod had undergone disaster preparedness training this summer and was therefore in a position to effect a response.
Two members of the PDA National Response Team (NRT), Milton Fulton and Paul Reiter, executive presbyter of Giddings-Lovejoy, are enroute to Houston to help the presbyteries with assessments and connecting with the broader ecumenical response and other relief organizations.
An acknowledgement was made that this will be a long-term recovery. An estimated 4 million people are affected - half of which do not have clean water. The infrastructure has been completely destroyed in some communities and relief organizations are anticipating that some evacuees may need emergency shelter for up to a month.
PDA is working on bulletin inserts that will be posted to the web site for use by congregations this weekend and over the next few months.
Clean-up buckets and other Gift-of-the-Heart kits are urgently needed.
Tuesday morning - Day 4
The state of Texas continues response to Hurricane Ike focused on these priorities:
- Complete the Search and Rescue operations (SAR)
- Point of Distribution (POD) operations
- Power restoration
- Transition to recovery operations
- Sustain shelter operations
- Mosquito control operations
- Miracles are happening everywhere - yesterday morning we learned of three survivors washing ashore - alive!
- There are now over 60 PODs in the state, reportedly the largest U.S. POD operation in history.
- Post-impact evacuations and rescue operations have brought more evacuees seeking shelter. At this time, nearest available shelters are in San Antonio and Dallas.
- 2.2 million customers are still without power; work progresses swiftly - the magnitude of the work will extend for weeks.
- Within the assessment areas, this is Rita times 10, according to the State of Texas.
According to very preliminary assessments, much of Galveston, Chambers, Jefferson and Orange Counties have sustained significant infrastructural destruction (more than just "damage"). An extended sheltering operation is forecast.
Houston, our nation's fourth largest city, remains partly powered, but severely crippled. Response will extend for weeks.
Information for the San Antonio portion of this report was submitted by Harvey H. Howell, PDA National Response Team member.