Residents mop-up following floods

BY PJ HELLER | TEXAS | September 15, 1998

Residents along the Gulf Coast mopped up this week from Tropical Storm

Frances, but were bracing for more wet weather and possible flooding.

The National Weather Service was predicting showers and thunderstorms early

this week for portions of southeastern Texas and Louisiana, where the

ground is already saturated from the remnants of Frances.

After drenching Houston and other areas of Texas with up to 12 to 14 inches

of rain on Friday, Frances moved out of the Gulf and brought about 15

inches of rain to Louisiana.

"Louisiana is a mess," said Peggy Case of Catholic Charities and a disaster

resource consultant for Church World Service.

In Texas, more than 2,000 families were affected by the storm in a

seven-county area, including Houston and Galveston, according to a

preliminary assessment by the American Red Cross. Most of the damage appeared to be wet carpeting, furniture and sheet rock. One published report estim

ated that more than 1,500 homes and businesses in Harris (Houston),

Brazoria, Galveston and Matagorda counties were affected by the high waters.

There was no immediate damage estimate, although one report put the figure

at upwards of $95 million. Another said damages would run into the hundreds

of millions of dollars.

"We're still working on it (damage estimates)," Corina Love, deputy

coordinator for the division of emergency management in Houston, said

Monday (Sept. 14). "We're still crunching the numbers."

Texas Gov. George W. Bush was expected to ask that parts of southeast Texas

be declared federal disaster areas.

Shelters opened by the the Salvation Army and American Red Cross closed

last weekend after people were able to return to their homes. However,

Galveston officials, fearing additional flooding from tides predicted to be

three feet above normal, reopened their emergency operations center on

Monday and urged residents on the west end of the peninsula to voluntarily

leave their homes. The Salvation Army was providing a shelter.

Love said that flooding in the Houston area was not as bad as it could have


"We've had worse flooding down here," Love said, noting that in 1994 water

was "up to the ceilings in homes" and homes were "going down the bayous."

Norm Hein of Lutheran Disaster Response and a regional facilitator for

Church World Service, said he spoke with Houston Interfaith Ministries and

did not expect that any faith-based relief efforts would be required on the

Houston area.

The Red Cross opened several service centers, including ones in Houston and

Galveston, to assist people affected by the storms. Outreach teams were

also scheduled to visit less densely populated areas, said Russell Hubbard,

a Red Cross spokesman.

In Louisiana, coastal flood warnings remained in effect Monday and Tuesday

as rain pelted some areas and the threat of more bad weather lingered. The

storms damaged or destroyed more than 40 homes, Case reported. Three deaths

were blamed on the storm.

Cleanup kits were sent to the area by Church World Service.

Preliminary damage assessments by the Federal Emergency Management Agency

were scheduled to get under way this week in Cameron Parish. In other

areas, roads were still flooded Monday making travel difficult.

At least 20 coastal parishes were affected by the storm and several of them

ordered voluntary or mandatory evacuations. Fifteen of the parishes have

declared local states of emergency. Beach erosion, in both Louisiana and

Texas, was a problem.

Case was scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon with members of an already

established interfaith, Terrebone Recovery Assistance, to discuss unmet


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

was Charley, which devastated the Del Rio area.

Updated September 15, 1998

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