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Residents mop-up following floods

BY GEORGE PIPER | HOUSTON, Texas | October 2, 1998

HOUSTON, Texas (Oct. 2, 1998) -- Disaster relief and interfaith

officials want to ensure that Houston area survivors of Tropical Storm

Frances can cut through the bureaucracy when they're ready to get disaster

aid.

Representative of Lutheran Disaster Response and Interfaith Ministry for

Greater Houston met Thursday with the Federal Emergency Management Agency

to prepare for various aid requests during recovery from Frances.

The storm drenched a seven-county area around Houston and Galveston with

up to 14 inches of rain on Sept. 11. Five counties -- Brazoria, Galveston,

Harris, Jefferson and Matagorda -- bore the brunt of Frances with reports

of some more than 4,000 homes and businesses damaged.

Losses in Galveston County are estimated at $265 million and about $23

million around Houston. Through Wednesday, FEMA's toll-free

teleregistration number had received 2,221 applications for assistance.

Word of the recovery effort is going out among the 2,600 churches that

make up the Interfaith Ministry for Greater Houston. Relief information and

calls for volunteers are part of the initial plan, and the organizations

will convene again in three weeks to solidify plans.

"We're just going to see what everyone is able to do at this point,"

said Marilyn Nathan, program coordinator of interfaith relations for the

Houston-based group.

Assisting in the recovery planing is the Rev. Norm Hein of Lutheran

Disaster Response, who hopes the information-gathering phase leads to more

visible recovery signs including home repairs.

The Trinity River jumped its banks and flooded areas not usually prone

to high water. Low income families and those without flood insurance are in

particular need, added Hein, who also is a regional disaster consultant

facilitator for Church World Service

As people begin the recovery process, Nathan said IMGH wants to work

with flood survivors and give them as much information and help as

possible.

One positive effect from Frances' flooding is that it highlighted

mitigation plans implemented after the Trinity River flooded in 1994.

"Those persons were able to get out of harms way by doing some modification

of their homes, or they were not rebuilding in those areas," said Hein. "We

need to continue to press people for preparing for the next flood."

Frances was the second tropical system to hit Texas this season. The

first was Charley, which devastated the Del Rio area.

Posted Oct. 5, 1998


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