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Texas Baptists respond rapidly to disaster in Southeast Texas

Less than 24 hours after Hurricane Ike swept through the eastern one-third of Texas, Texas Baptists mobilized to respond to needs in Southeast Texas, which took the brunt of the storm’s force.

Texas Baptist Men has activated all of its disaster relief mobile kitchens and has been asked to prepare as many as 110,000 meals a day.

Volunteers will work in League City, Beaumont, Orange, Bryan, Marshall, The Woodlands and San Antonio.

Volunteers from Utah, Idaho and Iowa will work alongside Texas volunteers on some of the kitchens.

Baptist Child & Family Services entered the strike zone as part of the state’s 500-vehicle convoy making up Texas Task Force Ike. The Baptist General Convention of Texas-affiliated institution will lead medical and health services for the area affected by Hurricane Ike.

The BCFS incident management team is directing incident management for the Texas Department of State Health Services’ Texas Texas Force operations.

BCFS President Kevin Dinnin is serving as incident commander for the department’s operations, establishing command for Texas Task Force Ike on Galveston Island for the entire storm strike area of Texas.

As part of the 1,000-person team including federal medical teams, BCFS is setting up a command post to aid victims who have experienced the brunt of the storm.

“Resources are stretched thin across the state, and we consider it a privilege to serve in this way,” said BCFS President Kevin Dinnin. “We are thankful for those who are working with us around the clock in San Antonio, Tyler, Houston and Galveston to restore communication and aid those affected by this massive storm.”

Ike inflicted some damage on BGCT-affiliated institutions. Memorial Hermann Hospital sustained minor damage, but remains open.

Less than 24 hours after Hurricane Ike hit Houston, Parkway Place Executive Director Chuck Childress reported late Saturday that power had been restored to the Buckner retirement community and that service crews already were making repairs and performing cleanup. The restoration of power also restores air conditioning to the community and will halt earlier contingency plans by Buckner Retirement Services to move residents to other retirement facilities because of the heat.

“The lawn service is here taking care of the many branches, and two trees that are down around the campus,” said Childress, “And the roofer is already here taking care of shingles and any other areas of the roof that are damaged. An extraction service is on site taking care of the areas that received water. We’re in really good shape considering the damage other buildings received in Houston.”

In other weather-related Buckner Retirement news, Buckner Westminster Place in Longview is currently without power, and Buckner leaders are closely monitoring conditions there. All residents are said to be safe and a generator is being used to provide power to skilled care and other critical systems.

Initial reports from observers indicated moderate damage to Buckner Children’s Village and the Calder Woods retirement community after Hurricane Ike blew through Friday afternoon and into Saturday morning.

Greg Eubanks, director/team leader for Buckner Children and Family Services of Southeast Texas, said a spouse of a staff member made an early-morning assessment of all the structures Saturday, finding mostly wind- and rain-related damage.

“It appears from that report that we were blessed with less damage than we had feared,” Eubanks said.

“Although it looks like we’ve got a lot of cleanup. There seems to be some water damage from seepage and a window that blew in, there’s some roof damage caused by falling trees and we lost some shingles.”

Calder Woods security personnel also reported moderate damage and power loss to the retirement community Saturday afternoon. Initial reports showed the town-homes received no damage, but some fencing, carports and trees were down from the Category 2-force winds that blew through the area.

Pearl Merritt, president of Buckner Retirement Services, said she was pleased with the reports.

“Other than a small leak from a few missing shingles, Calder Woods received no water damage,” she said. “We’re so relieved. We feared flooding the most and it appears we had none at all. What a blessing.”

With additional reporting by Haley Smith and Russ Dilday
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