Hours after the Ike slammed the area, World Vision began delivering emergency relief supplies to displaced residents. An assessment team overcame roads still submerged in water or blocked by downed electrical lines to reach Port Arthur, a community still recovering from Hurricane Rita. The Dallas based organization then set its sights on Houston, where it called on local churches in need.
“Most often, people don’t really realize how traumatized they are until 30, 60, sometimes 90 days in advance.”
Phyllis Freeman is director of disaster field operations for World Vision. She says disaster victims face emotional trauma from the loss of property and physical injury:
“We were with this wonderful little ten year old that quite frankly, she sort of stunned us all because she was seeing what used to be her home, which now is nothing, for the first time. So, I’m thinking that sometime in the future, the reality of that will actually begin to sink in, because her grandparents lost their home, her parents lost…you know, everything is gone.”
Essential items being delivered and distributed include personal hygiene, cleaning supplies, as well as childrens books and toys. Freeman says World Vision’s protocol is to come along side a faith based organization for the long term.
“So when we come into a community, we’re literally making relationships that we intend to be around for a very, very long time through the recovery and the rebuilding phase as well “.
Pastor Rory Thompson heads the Greater First Baptist Church. He says places of worship and community partners are essential to relief efforts.
“This is a time that we all can pull together, and I believe that we can do more together than we ever could apart.”
Longtime parishioner Glenda Gayle says federal relief is one thing:
“But, when you have a church family or church community that’s good, that sticks together, it gives you a lot of hope, a lot more faith. Just to hear somebody say…it’s gonna be okay, we’re gonna be there, we’re gonna pull together, we’re gonna do this together, it helps a lot.”
Hernandez: “And, you believe it when they say that?”
Gayle: “Oh, I believe in it, I definitely believe in it, I definitely believe in it.”
Pat Hernandez, KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.