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Helping Houston Seniors Prepare For Disaster

The Interfaith Ministries "Meals on Wheels" program is the main source of food for thousands of Houston seniors each day. But what if a major storm or hurricane hits, delivery could be impossible and some seniors could go hungry.


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Verna Battles is one many drivers who have a daily routine passing out meals to Houston seniors. Usually she’s alone, but this time there’s a group helping deliver meals intended to be put on the shelf in case of a hurricane.

“It’s a whole little pack to get you through the storm until you can get out, or people can get to you to give you the assistance that you need.”

That’s Misty White of Reliant Energy, which is helps pay for the meals each year. The group is in the home of Thelma Herbert. When Hurricane Ike hit, she wasn’t a Meals on Wheels recipient, but remembers having to make due without power.

“My house is pretty high, so I stayed, here. My son came and stayed with me.”

Many of the seniors live in what most people would call run down neighborhoods. Some are too old to cook, while others can physically do it, just not every day. Verna Battles says the seniors are grateful that someone cares about them.

“And a lot of times when I get there, they’re waiting for me. If I’m about five minutes late, where you been, I was worried about you.”

Interfaith Ministries’ Andrea Fineman explains the reason for the hurricane kits:

“We want to make sure that our seniors are prepared for an emergency, like a hurricane and we’re so thankful to Reliant Energy for helping us provide these shelf stable meals to the seniors this year.”

The seniors are supposed to save the storm packages for the proverbial rainy day. But Battles says that doesn’t always happen.

“You tell them it’s for a hurricane emergency and you get back the next day, ‘Do you have another bag?’ Well that was for emergency. Well, it was an emergency.”

The group stops by the home of Minnie Clemons. It’s a similar old, low income neighborhood.

“Hello Ms. Clemons, how are you doing?”

On her counter is a picture of the University of Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas, who went to Aldine High school. She says Thomas is her grandson.

Thomas decided to turn pro this year as a junior after leading Oregon to a Rose bowl victory. A big NFL contract would mean lots of money. Perhaps Minnie Clemons would be able to move out the neighborhood and wouldn’t need Meals on Wheels anymore. But her grandson wasn’t drafted and may never play in the NFL. Clemons thanks God for Meals on Wheels. 

“They bring me vegetables. Everything in there [is] healthy.”