Eastern TX calls for relief

A small community in eastern Texas is at its wit's end while news reports focus elsewhere, reported the Rev. Sam Knight, pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Orange.

BY SUSAN KIM | ORANGE, Texas | October 3, 2005


The Rev. Sara Bodenstein and her 2-year-old son share a moment with marbles that have comforted disaster survivors for years. (Photo by Mary Gaudreau)
Credit: Disaster News Network

A small community in eastern Texas is at its wit's end while news reports focus elsewhere, reported the Rev. Sam Knight, pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Orange.

"Every time we give somebody a bag of ice, they're breaking down," said Knight, who is also a chaplain with the fire department. "Everybody's coming to their end. We are going to need people to come down here and do some pastoral counseling. But turn on the TV - and they're all talking about Katrina and New Orleans, and about southern California. They're not talking about us. You can't do that to us. There's way too much at stake here."

"We have no potable water," he added. "We have shortages of food. Out of about 65,000 in this county, I'd say about 1,000 have power. There are trees down all over the place that nobody can move."

Orange - which Knight describes as "the first city in Texas on Interstate 10" - sits on the northern part of Sabine Lake, about 25 miles from where Hurricane Rita made landfall Sept. 24, he said. "We got slammed."

Now Knight is Orange County's acting liaison for relief. "We're just a small community. I'd say we were a rural community but we have a lot of chemical industry."

The county has set up a central distribution point for supplies, Knight said. "All distribution is being done centrally. That's my role. We have a large logistical staging area."

Knight worries about getting enough supplies to simply keep people going. "We're being told right now by the federal folks that we have to close points of distribution, so they can cut back on what they're doing. I'm sure it comes down to the fact of money," he said, "but I'm not going to close while I'm still giving out water."

His church building, he added, "is in a mess. But we'll get it fixed. It's an historical building."

Before Hurricane Rita struck, the church had been housing Hurricane Katrina evacuees, but was able to move them elsewhere, said Knight. "Thank goodness we had closed."

And thank goodness, he added, a cool front has just come through: "Now it's only 90 degrees."


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