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Humberto damages assessed

Power remains out for thousands; some homes damaged.

BY HEATHER MOYER | BEAUMONT, Texas | September 16, 2007

Officials in Texas and Louisiana continued assessing damages Sunday from Hurricane Humberto.

In Texas, Gov. Ricky Perry declared a state of emergency for Jefferson, Orange and Galveston counties. The small community of High Island, Texas, is said to be hardest hit, with television images showing some homes with roofs torn off. Texas Baptist Men teams are assisting with debris removal there and one organization representative said the deployment is expected "to be a short term response."

The storm made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 85 mph early Thursday. One Texas emergency management person said the damage could have been much worse from Humberto had it not come ashore in a sparsely populated area. The storm dumped 5 to 10 inches of rain across eastern Texas and much of Louisiana, causing some minor flooding.

More than 32,000 people in the communities of Beaumont, Winnie, Port Arthur and Orange remain without power after the high winds downed power lines and trees. Government workers have set up supply stations in several areas to distribute ice, water and other supplies. Some 106 people stayed in shelters overnight. Texas Baptist Men, The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross have set up feeding units.

Humberto is being blamed for one death and six injuries in Texas.

Disaster responders who are still assisting residents recovering from 2005's Hurricane Rita remain concerned about the damage done to those homes.

"The bad news is that it hit the areas that were bad off and were already working on recovery," said Angela Baker, director of Rita Recovery in Beaumont, Texas. "We're now regrouping and realizing that we'll have more damages to the houses that we hadn't yet got to before the storm."

Baker said that this second round of hurricane damage will negatively affect residents' emotions even more.

"The first call I got...was from a homeowner that we're currently helping and who lives in a FEMA trailer. She stayed in a friend's home but saw news reports this morning about the wind having flipped some FEMA trailers. Now she's really emotionally upset," Baker said.

"I think that goes for all of us, too," she added. "We're coming up on two years since Hurricane Rita. This just shows that we will continue to need more volunteer home repair teams to help us."

Catholic Charities was also checking in with its local agencies in the region, noting in a release that "(we are) especially concerned because this area is still recuperating from the devastation caused by Hurricane Rita in 2005." The organization then awarded an emergency assistance grant to its Catholic Charities of Southeast Texas.

Humberto's remnants went on to drench much of Louisiana, Mississippi and the Carolinas, even spawning some funnel clouds and tornado warnings in some areas.

Humberto was the eighth named storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season.

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