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Aid flows to flood-stricken TX, LA

BY SUSAN KIM | Houston, TX | June 11, 2001

Aid is flowing into Texas and Louisiana to meet people's emergency needs, and a long-term response is being shaped as well.

Faith-based and community response groups, working with emergency management officials, are deploying an immediate response to severe flooding caused by some 24 inches of rain in the two states.

Houston officials are estimating $1 billion worth of damage in that metro area alone. Sixteen blocks of underground parking garages were still full of water Tuesday.

At least 20,000 homes in Texas and Louisiana were reportedly affected by flooding, and the aftermath of Tropical Storm Allison was still causing storms Monday along the Mississippi Gulf Coast in Mississippi. Seventeen people in Texas and one in Louisiana died.

President Bush declared 28 Texas counties eligible for federal disaster assistance. Bush is also considering a federal disaster declaration for Louisiana, where at least 20 parishes have been affected by the flooding. Others are still missing.

Church World Service reported that it plans to deploy volunteer disaster resource consultants to support local long-term recovery efforts in the affected areas.

Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR) is also responding through Lutheran Social Services of the South, and through local and regional synods. LDR will distribute emergency funds through local churches to assist flood survivors. LDR representatives also plan to assess needs and help develop a long-term response.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is sending $10,000 to local

representatives to help meet emergency needs. PDA is also considering

sending funds to Louisiana after the Presbytery of South Louisiana

completes a damage assessment.

PDA reported that volunteer work teams will likely be needed to assist

with cleanup and repair.

Week of Compassion, a giving program coordinated by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), sent a grant of $15,000 to begin meeting immediate needs.

Both the United Methodist Committee on Relief and Christian Reformed

World Relief Committee (CRWRC) reported they were also contacting

congregations and emergency management officials in the worst-hit areas to try to assess needs.

"It is too early to say exactly how much damage has been done, said Bev Abma, CRWRC disaster response administrator, "but we expect significant involvement, especially during the long-term recovery. This is the first time in 13 years that a storm of this magnitude has struck during the first week of hurricane season."

The Salvation Army and Southern Baptists were feeding thousands of

people by Monday. The American Red Cross opened nearly 50 shelters that have housed some 10,000 people in Texas and Louisiana.

Emergency workers rescued more than 200 people from atop stranded

automobiles, housetops, fences, and trees. The American Red Cross housed some 9,000 flood survivors in shelters. Many began returning to their homes Sunday as floodwaters receded.

More showers were forecast in the area for Tuesday.

Public health officials are concerned about people's exposure to

contaminated water. Floodwaters can carry disease agents and bacteria

that can cause fever, gastrointestinal difficulties, and even death in some cases. Residents were urged to clean and disinfect items that come into contact with floodwater.

Health officials added that residents should also beware of snakes, fire ants, and other dangerous animals that have been displaced by the flooding.

Initially, Allison was storm everyone thought had blown over. But it

turned back toward Texas and stalled, dumping torrential rain onto

already saturated ground.

Tropical Storm Allison was the first named storm of the Atlantic

hurricane season.

Texas counties that received a federal declaration include Anderson,

Angelina, Brazoria, Cherokee, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Hardin,

Harris, Houston, Jasper, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Smith, Trinity, Tyler, and Walker.

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